Defeat of Islamic State in Kobane “imminent”

Defeat of Islamic State in Kobane “imminent”
After weeks of defeats, Kurdish forces are now on the advance against Islamic State positions following reinforcements by Peshmerga and rebel units.
3 min read
16 November, 2014
Reinforcements have turned the tide in Kobane (AFP)

After a two-month long siege by Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as ISIS) fighters, the People's Protection Units (YPG), backed by Peshmerga and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters are finally making advances in the Kurdish-Syrian city of Kobane.

Crucially, the anti-IS coalition have cut off the group’s supply chains and now control large parts of the vitally strategic Mashtanour Hill area, which overlooks the city. With these tactical gains, Kurdish leaders believe that the IS group’s defeat is just around the corner, with one leader describing the situation on the ground as positive.

There were a series of coalition air raids Saturday night which followed on from an apparent escalation earlier in the week.

Journalist Majeed Mohamed told al-Araby al-Jadeed that coalition aircraft had intensified their raids on IS positions in the city, and carried out nine raids in the period starting the evening of Wednesday, 12 November until the afternoon on Thursday, 13 November.

Mohamed said the bombings focused on the neighborhood of Kanya Araban and the villages of Mamayd, Zor Maghad, Qarah Halinj, Minaze, Shiran, and Kulmah. According to the journalist, the raids inflicted severe casualties on IS fighters, and damaged a number of the groups’ vehicles.

Under the cover of Peshmerga artillery fire, YPG fighters also advanced up Mashtanour Hill and captured IS positions. This helped the Kurdish-FSA force cut off IS supply chains around Qarah Halinj, after surrounding the area. Majeed noted that confrontations "have subsided in the Al-Sina'ah neighborhood, the municipality area, and Street 48".

Ibrahim Muslim, chairman of the public relations committee of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, the political wing of the YPG, said that along with the situation on the ground, the political situation for the Kurds was more propitious than before. “We have the upper hand, and the defeat of the IS group is imminent,” he said.

Kurdish leaders believe that defeat is just around the corner for the IS in Kobane.

Such is the sense of calm in the western neighbourhood captured by Kurdish and rebel fighters, that refugees are beginning to return, including 50 Kurdish families who had previously left when IS first captured the area. In the first days of the offensive on Kobane, IS captured 60 Kurdish villages and more than half the city, which led to an exodus of 20,000 civilians.

Since the entry of Peshmerga and FSA reinforcements into the battle, along with air raids by anti-IS coalition forces, the balance has tilted in favour of the Kurdish and rebel fighters. 

In another development on Sunday, IS released two separate videos depicting another slew of beheadings. In one, what are described as Syrian security forces are decapitated in a highly choreographed sequence. At least 15 men were slain.

Another purports to show the beheading of American aid worker, Abdul Rahman Kassig.

This article is an updated edited translation from our Arabic edition. The original was published on 14 November.