Kurds retake Kobane as ‘demoralised’ ISIS retreat in face of allied airstrikes


Kurdish forces have fought off advancing ISIS fighters and retaken the strategic Syrian border town of Kobane, which became the setting of one of the most brutally contested armed battles against the jihadist group, according to data from the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

“The Kurds have retaken 80% of Kobane due to the continual attrition of Islamic State,” says Rami Abdurrahman, director of the SOHR, “especially during the last seven weeks after IS have failed to advance in the city.”

“From the middle of November ISIS have tried to advance and they have been stopped. Before then, ISIS controlled about 60% of the city, now they have less than 20%,” he adds.

“Since seven weeks ago ISIS have not been able to go forward even a road in Kobane and have been losing ground,” Abdurrahman added.

According to the SOHR it was precisely the combination of allied airstrikes against ISIS and the arrival of Kurdish reinforcements in Kobane that shifted the tide of the battle and stopped what had appeared to be a decisive ISIS victory, which would have given them control of a stretch of the border with Turkey.

“Besides the heavy fighting by YPG [Kurdish militia], the U.S. and Arab allies’ coalition airstrikes have helped Kurds to advance in the city, where the air raids have blocked Islamic State’s advances, targeting them in coordination with the Kurdish fighters.”

According to Abdurrahman the shift in fortune has weighed heavily on ISIS fighters, with many abandoning their positions, leaving the group with little permanent guard inside the town, instead being forced to rotate their fighters daily.

The town of Kobane, located on Syria’s border with Turkey had been the spearhead of ISIS’s western advance and has continued to be the setting of heavy fighting between Islamist militants and local Kurdish opposition since September.