A vendor strolls around, selling bread to people sitting on a hillside, intently watching the action below them. The fight for Kobani has become a spectator sport, watched by scores of Syrian and Turkish Kurds, as well as dozens of journalists, through binoculars from hilltops and farms just across the border in Turkey.

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A woman reacts as smoke rises from the the Syrian town of Kobani after a strike from the US-led coalition, as seen from Mursitpinar on the Turkish-Syrian borderAFP
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A vendor sells bread to people watching the fighting in the Syrian town of Kobani from the Mursitpinar border crossingAFP

From that vantage point, the town spreads out among the rocky hills and brown fields just beyond the frontier. Plumes of black smoke billow over the low-slung skyline. The occasional thud of mortar shells mixes with the clatter of heavy machine guns and assault rifles.

The defence of Kobani is being turned into a very public test for the American-led international effort to roll back and ultimately destroy the Islamic State group.

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Turkish Kurds look towards the Syrian town of Kobani as they stand on top of a house near the borderReuters
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Turkish Kurds near the Mursitpinar border crossing watch as smoke rises in the Syrian town of KobaniReuters
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A huge cloud of smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani, as seen from a hillside on the Turkish-Syrian borderGetty
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Kurdish people watch the fighting in the Syrian town of Kobani from a hill near the Turkish-Syrian borderAFP
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Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani, as seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian borderAFP

On the Turkish side of the frontier, Kurds have kept vigil over Kobani, watching the fighting from hillsides. Mizgin Polat, 22, climbed to the top of a hill with her mother as they have each Sunday since the battle began. Her cousin left to join the fight in Syria two months ago and has not been heard from since.

"I think about him all of the time. I feel closer to him when I'm here. Every time I hear the gunfire, it makes me want to join the fight. But my mother won't let me go. She says there is already too much sorrow in our family," Polat said.

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A Turkish Kurdish woman sits on a hillside near the Turkish-Syrian borderReuters
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People watch the air strikes on Kobani from the Turkish town of SurucGetty
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Two men watch the fighting in Kobani from a hillside near the Mursitpinar border crossingReuters
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A fireball erupts after a US-led air strike in the Syrian town of KobaniReuters
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A Turkish soldier warns journalists to leave their position on top of a hill near the Mursitpinar border crossingGetty
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Smoke rises in Kobani as Turkish Kurds watch from near the Mursitpinar border crossingReuters
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Kurds watch over the Syrian town of Kobani from the top of a hill near the Mursitpinar border crossingGetty
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Turkish army officers warn people to leave a hilltop where they were watching the fighting in KobaniReuters