By Sylvia Westall and Ayla Jean Yackley BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Kurdish forces took control of the Syrian town of Kobani on Monday after driving out Islamic State fighters, a monitoring group said, although Washington said the four-month battle was not yet over. Some Islamic State supporters took to Twitter to say the fight for Kobani, a focal point of the international struggle against the ultra-hardline Islamist group, was still raging. Islamist militants launched an assault on the predominantly Kurdish town last year, using heavy weapons seized in Iraq and forcing tens of thousands of locals into exile. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) had retaken the town, close to the Turkish border, but were proceeding carefully in the eastern outskirts where Islamic State had planted mines before fleeing.
The Pentagon on Monday declined to declare the battle for the Syrian town Kobani over or declare that Islamic State forces had been entirely pushed out after a four-month battle that became a focal point in the international fight against the group. U.S. and coalition forces launched 17 air strikes near Kobani since Sunday, the military said earlier. The Pentagon last Friday said about 70 percent of the city was in control of Kurdish forces.
By John McCrank and Richard Leong NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some Wall Street traders booked hotels, while banks and brokerages prepared to get by with bare bones staffing, but major exchanges said it was business as usual as a potentially historic blizzard bore down on the northeast. "Most brokers down here have already gotten a room in the city and mostly right downtown near the financial district," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O’Neil Securities in New York. Intercontinental Exchange Inc's New York Stock Exchange unit, Nasdaq OMX Group , and BATS Global Markets said their exchanges are expected to stay open for normal operating hours Monday and Tuesday. Regulators asked the exchanges to revisit their business continuity plans in the wake of that storm to prevent further closures.