Kurds celebrate liberation of Kobane

Kurds celebrate liberation of Kobane
Fighters say the Islamic State group has been forced from city on Syrian-Turkish border after months of fighting supported by a US-led coalition air campaign.
2 min read
28 January, 2015
Kurds in Turkey celebrate the liberation of Kobane on 27 January 2015 [AFP]
Kurdish fighters are celebrating what they say is the full withdrawal of Islamic State militants from the Syrian city of Kobane after months of fighting.

Kurdish sources said the IS group was on Tuesday forced from eastern areas of the city, which they had controlled since November 2014.

The Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Iraqi Peshmerga forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces, said they had cleared the last remaining IS areas of the city, on the border with Turkey.
     The sensitive nature of the Kurdish question increased tensions in Turkey, where up to 150,000 Kurds have fled.

YPG forces are affiliated to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which controls all Kurdish majority areas in northern Syria.

Kobane has been a key battleground with the IS since September, and has been the focus of much of the bombing by a US-led coalition set up to defeat the group.

It was also a rallying point for Kurds wanting to establish a homeland and the resurgence of Kurdish nationalism has raised tensions with
Turkey. Several people have died and many others injured in clashes in Turkey in protests against Ankara's inaction in Kobane.

YPG commander Ismet Sheikh Hassan said his forces and their allies had retaken Kobane nearly a week after gaining ground on the south eastern front of the city at the strategic Mashte Nour Hill. This, he said, allowed his forces to control IS supply lines east and south of the city, and to cut off supply routes from IS strongholds in Raqqa and the eastern Aleppo countryside.

The US-led coalition caused heavy losses and equipment to IS forces, but have also destroyed large areas of the city.

Fighting has now moved to the countryside surrounding the city, where IS fighters remain in control of about 200 villages.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated that 980 IS fighters have died fighting in the city and surrounding area over the past four months, as well as 300 YPG and 12 FSA fighters. About 150,000 civilians have fled their homes, with most living in informal camps in Turkey near the Syrian border.

Meanwhile, a meeting is being held in Moscow between Syrian figures to discuss the crisis, although representatives of the mainstream Syrian opposition are not attending.

A source within the PYD told al-Araby al-Jadeed that Russia had promised to press the Syrian regime to recognise an autonomous Kurdish administration within the country.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.