Kur­dish fight­ers re­gain ter­ri­to­ries as ISIS mil­i­tants re­treat from Kobani

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

The ad­vance of Is­lamic State fight­ers on Kobani stalled on Thurs­day, ac­cord­ing to a mon­i­tor­ing group, after US -led coali­tion war­planes launched their heav­i­est bom­bard­ment yet on the mil­i­tants.

Last week, the Turk­ish and U.S. of­fi­cials said Is­lamic State was on the verge of tak­ing Kobani from its heav­ily out­gunned Kur­dish de­fend­ers, after seiz­ing strate­gic points deep inside the town.

A dra­matic ramp­ing up of coali­tion air strikes reached a new crescendo in re­cent days, with Is­lamic State tar­gets around Kobani be­ing hit nearly 40 times in 48 hours. The bar­rage has halted the mil­i­tants' ad­vance, with Kur­dish sources say­ing that Kur­dish YPG fight­ers man­aged to re­take some ter­ri­tory.

The four-week as­sault has in­creas­ingly been seen as a key test of U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama's air strike strat­egy, and the Kur­dish lead­ers have re­peat­edly said the be­lea­guered town can­not sur­vive with­out arms and am­mu­ni­tion reach­ing the de­fend­ers, some­thing neigh­bor­ing Turkey has so far re­fused to al­low.

Is­lamic State has been keen to take the town to con­sol­i­date its po­si­tion in north­ern Syria after seiz­ing large amounts of ter­ri­tory in that coun­try and in Iraq. A de­feat in Kobani would be a ma­jor set­back for the Is­lamists and a boost for Obama.

In­creased air strikes over the be­sieged Kur­dish city of Kobani have al­lowed the Amer­i­can-led coali­tion to take out large num­bers of Is­lamic State fight­ers, the top Amer­i­can com­man­der for the Mid­dle East said on Fri­day.

Gen. Lloyd J. Austin, the Head of the United States Cen­tral Com­mand, ac­knowl­edged that the Sunni mil­i­tant group might still man­age to take Kobani, but in­di­cated that even if it did, it would be a costly vic­tory that could even­tu­ally help the United States and its al­lies in other parts of Syria as well as Iraq.

“What’s go­ing on in the Kobani area is that, in my as­sess­ment, the en­emy has made a decision to make Kobani his main ef­fort,” Gen­eral Austin said dur­ing a rare ap­pear­ance be­fore re­porters at the Pen­tagon. He said that fight­ers from the group, also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, had poured into Kobani.

“Now, my goal is to de­feat and ul­ti­mately de­stroy ISIL,” he said. “And if it con­tin­ues to present us with ma­jor tar­gets, as it has done in the Kobani area, then clearly we’ll wipe out those tar­gets.”

The United States car­ried out 14 air strikes around Kobani on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day, the Pen­tagon said. The at­tacks blasted build­ings used by the Is- lamic State, com­mand posts, fight­ing po­si­tions, sniper po­si­tions, a stag­ing lo­ca­tion and one heavy ma­chine gun.

Heavy smoke rises fol­low­ing an airstrike by the U.S.-led coali­tion air­craft in Kobani, Syria, on Wed­nes­day.

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