ISIS is losing ground in the battle for the Syrian border city of Kobane, suffering heavy losses from Kurdish fighters and U.S. airstrikes.
For several weeks, the Islamist militant group has marched toward the city, which sits on the border with Turkey. Though it seemed last week as if ISIS forces would march into the city, defense forces have been able to hold off the advance and are now pushing ISIS out again.
Over the weekend, the United States conducted 11 air strikes in and around Kobane, U.S. Central Command said. The strikes allowed Kurdish defense forces to withstand heavy street fighting and at least two suicide bombings from ISIS to hold its line of defense and stop an attack on its supply lines.
“(IS) brought in reinforcements… and attacked hard,” Kurdish leader Idris Nassen told AFP by telephone. “But thanks to air strikes and (the Kurdish fighters’) response, they did not make any progress.”
Those defending Kobane have taken to some unusual tactics to stop ISIS fighters.
The Telegraph notes:
“Low in weapon supplies, facing mounting efforts by Isil’s harmed jihadist fighters to enter Kobane – and as yet unsupported by air strikes, Mr Kharaba and the other rebel groups devised ever more elaborate plots to stop the advance ‘There was an empty hospital to the east of the city that we had occupied,’ said Mr. Kharaba. ‘The FSA and the Kurds escaped it and Isil immediately overran it. They were triumphant, thinking they had conquered our main base. But it was a trap. Before leaving the hospital, we had booby trapped the whole place. We pressed the detonator and the whole building collapsed with the jihadists inside.'”
Kobane is important both strategically and symbolically for ISIS. If the Islamist militant group were able to take the town it would solidify the group’s territory across a long stretch of the Syrian border, and would also showcase a major victory in front of the world press watching from just over the border in Turkey.
Kurdish forces have been able to push back ISIS in other areas near Kobane. In Ras al-Ayn, a town near Kobane, Kurdish fighters paraded the bodies of dead ISIS militants through the streets before cheering crowds. Over the weekend, an estimated 31 jihadists were killed in battle, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights noted.
Despite the gains in the last several days, the U.S. military warns that Kobane could still fall into the hands of ISIS if the group can make a renewed push. The U.N. has said that if ISIS does take the city, it would leave the remaining residents in danger of being massacred.
[Image via The Mirror]