Kurds oust IS from Syria’s Kobane as civilian toll mounts
Kurdish forces drove Islamic State group fighters from the flashpoint Syrian border town of Kobane on Saturday, after a killing spree by the jihadists left more than 200 civilians dead.
Fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) stormed IS’ last remaining position, taking full control of Kobane, a powerful symbol of Kurdish resistance.
As they combed the streets looking for fugitive jihadists, the Kurdish fighters found more bodies, taking the civilian death toll to 206, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Local journalist Rudi Mohammad Amin told AFP that more civilians were still unaccounted for.
The jihadists made their last stand in a boys’ high school building.
“The YPG detonated explosives outside of the school, then stormed it,” Amin said, speaking via the Internet from a position near Kobane, on the border with Turkey.
“This military operation was carried out after ensuring that there were no civilians left in the school.”
Amin said he believed all the IS fighters inside were killed.
‘They just came to kill the highest
Some of the civilians were felled in the streets by rocket or sniper fire, others were executed in their homes.
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the bodies found on Saturday bore bullet marks and appeared to include entire families.
“The bodies were found littered in homes and in the streets, laying here and there,” he said.
The IS operation was widely seen as vengeance for a series of defeats at the hands of Kurdish militia, particularly the jihadists’ loss of Tal Abyad, another border town further east, on June 16.
“IS doesn’t want to take over the town. They just came to kill the highest number of civilians in the ugliest ways possible,” local journalist Mostafa Ali told AFP on Friday.
A total of 16 Kurdish fighters and 54 jihadists were also killed.
The Observatory chief said that IS had achieved its objective.