Kurdish forces oust IS from Syria's Kobane

Kurdish forces oust IS from Syria's Kobane
Kurdish fighters drove Islamic State fighters from the Syrian border town of Kobane on Saturday, after a killing spree by the extremists left more than 200 civilians dead.
2 min read
28 June, 2015
Relatives mourn as a monitoring group puts the civilian death toll at 206 [AFP]

Kurdish forces drove Islamic State (IS) group fighters from the flashpoint Syrian border town of Kobane on Saturday, after a killing spree by the extremists left more than 200 civilians dead.

Forces of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) stormed IS's last remaining position, taking full control of Kobane, a powerful symbol of Kurdish resistance.

As they combed the streets for fugitive fighters, the Kurds 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. IS fighters made their last stand in a boys' high school.

"The YPG detonated explosives outside of the school, then stormed it," Amin said, speaking via the Internet from 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 militants inside were killed.

The extremists had entered Kobane at dawn on Thursday disguised in YPG uniforms and seized several buildings in the town's south and southwest.

The YPG quickly surrounded the extremists' positions, but it took two days to re-establish control.

Some civilians were killed in the streets by rocket or sniper fire, and 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, lying here and there," he said.

The toll included at least 180 civilians killed in Kobane itself, and another 26 executed in a nearby village. At least 300 people were wounded.

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.

"You cannot call this last operation a real defeat for IS, because it did what it wanted to in Kobane," Abdel Rahman said.