Kur­dish forces drive Is­lamic State out of Kobane

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

Kur­dish forces have driven out Is­lamic State (IS) mil­i­tants from Kobane, of­fi­cials say, end­ing a four-month battle for the north­ern Syr­ian-Kur­dis­tan town.

Fighters from the Popular Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG) were said to have en­tered out­ly­ing ar­eas in the east of the town af­ter the ji­hadists re­treated.

The US said anti-IS forces were in con­trol of 90% of the town.

Kobane was seen as a ma­jor test of the US-led coali­tion's strat­egy to com­bat IS in Syria with air strikes.

Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple fled over the nearby bor­der with Turkey af­ter IS launched an of­fen­sive in Septem­ber, cap­tur­ing about 300 nearby vil­lages be­fore en­ter­ing the pre­dom­i­nantly Kur­dish town it­self.

The fight­ing has left at least 1,600 peo­ple dead, among them 1,196 ter­ror­ists, the UK-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights says. Fi­nal clean-up Pho­to­graphs posted on so­cial me­dia on Mon­day af­ter­noon showed the YPG flag be­ing flown around Kobane, and male and fe­male fighters shak­ing hands. As night fell, cel­e­bra­tory gun­fire echoed across the town.

The Kurds in Kobane are ju­bi­lant. Af­ter 131 days of fight­ing, they say they have tri­umphed over the so-called Is­lamic State.

If this is in­deed the victory the Kurds claim, it would not have hap­pened with­out Amer­i­can bomb­ing.

This set­back for IS does not nec­es­sar­ily mean they are los­ing over­all.

Syr­ian op­po­si­tion sources say IS ac­tu­ally have more ter­ri­tory un­der their con­trol now than when the United States and its al­lies started bomb­ing last Au­gust.

In Iraq, the au­thor­i­ties say Is­lamic State have been pushed out of the eastern prov­ince of Diyala - but the ter­ror­ists have made gains to con­trol most of the west­ern prov­ince of An­bar.

The battle against IS is ul­ti­mately a battle for Sunni Mus­lim public opin­ion - and Sun­nis have been an­gered by the civil­ians ca­su­al­ties in their ar­eas caused by US air strikes.

YPG spokesman Polat Jan mean­while de­clared on Twit­ter: "Con­grat­u­la­tions to hu­man­ity, Kur­dis­tan, and the peo­ple of Kobane on the lib­er­a­tion of Kobane."

An­war Mus­lim, the Pres­i­dent of the self-de­clared Syr­ian Kur­dish can­ton of Kobane, told the BBC that the town was fully un­der the con­trol of the YPG and Iraqi Kur­dish Pesh­merga fighters who were de- ployed there in Oc­to­ber.

How­ever, he added that the sit­u­a­tion in the eastern out­skirts was still "a lit­tle tense", with YPG fighters car­ry­ing out "the fi­nal clean-up" and be­sieg­ing ar­eas they be­lieved IS lead­ers might be hid­ing.

A state­ment from US Cen­tral Com­mand con­grat­u­lated the Kur­dish fighters, AFP re­ported.

"While the fight against ISIL is far from over, its fail­ure in Kobane has de­nied them one of their strate­gic ob­jec­tives," it said.

The ad­vance by Kur­dish forces came af­ter sev­eral days of heavy aerial bom­bard­ment by coali­tion air­craft.

The Pen­tagon said it had car­ried out 17 air strikes in the 24 hours from the morn­ing of 25 Jan­uary, tar­get­ing IS "tac­ti­cal units" and "fight­ing po­si­tions", as well as ve­hi­cle and stag­ing ar­eas.

The re­tired US gen­eral co-or­di­nat­ing the coali­tion, John Allen, pre­dicted in Novem­ber that IS would "impale it­self" on Kobane, and an­a­lysts said its loss would be a sym­bolic and strate­gic blow for the group, which wanted to con­trol an un­in­ter­rupted stretch of the Syr­ian-Turk­ish bor­der.

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