I am proud to have gotten to know several Kurds who believed ISIS could be defeated at Kobami. I have backed many long-shots in my life, but have never felt so completely on the side of any group who was so severely outnumbered and given no chance of winning. I had a vision that they would win that I believe came from God.
Jon the Nazarite
The U.S. has conducted 708 airstrikes in Kobani since September—the vast majority of its 954 strikes against Islamic State in Syria. Seventeen of these strikes came on Sunday and Monday.
For much of the fight in Kobani, the U.S. has been in close communication with the Kurdish fighters trying to defend the town. A senior military official said that has allowed the U.S. to precisely coordinate its airstrikes.
“When they call and say: ‘We need you to drop ordnance,’ we know exactly what they are talking about,” said the senior military official.
This coordination was on display on Monday morning, as a pitched battle involving mortars and heavy machine guns raged over a hill close to the Turkish border, on the eastern side of Kobani.
By then, the Kurds already controlled another major hill overlooking the city, seized late last week, and their yellow, red and green flags fluttered from rooftops elsewhere.
A jet was heard circling over the city throughout the fight. Then, three booming airstrikes on Islamic State positions in the early afternoon appeared to have tilted the battle in favor of the Kurds.
An hour later, Kurdish fighters hoisted their flag on the only remaining hilltop outside their control.
“Congratulations for all humanity and Kurdistan and the people of Kobani for the liberation of the city of Kobani,” Polat Can, a YPG spokesman, tweeted Monday.
Alan Hesso, a fighter with YPG inside Kobani, said that Islamic State fighters were clinging to the one final neighborhood, in the southeast of the city, as darkness fell.
“I hope we will be able to liberate the entire city tonight,” Mr. Hesso said.
Photos of flag-waving Kurds dancing in Kobani and in the mainly Kurdish cities in southeastern Turkey spread across social media.
That revelry rose over a devastated city emptied of most of its residents, its streets left mostly to those with guns.
Kurdish forces were combing through empty buildings searching for remaining Islamic State fighters and clearing land mines, officials and residents said.
The YPG systematically evacuated all villages around Kobani and almost all of the town’s civilian residents in September to avoid a feared massacre of Kurdish civilians.
Most of these refugees, numbering hundreds of thousands, now live in camps and private housing in and near the Turkish city of Suruç just across the border from Kobani.
In Suruç on Monday afternoon, as news of YPG advances raised the spirits, Kobani refugees gathered on the main square to share the latest information from the battlefields and to discuss when they could all go home.
“I am hopeful. I hope we can return really soon,” said Akram, a 19-year-old from a village near Kobani whose family of 15 is sharing the same house in Suruç.
Former schoolteacher Radwan Hamed, however, said that the city wasn’t yet fit for living.
“There is no security, there is no electricity, there is no water, there is nothing in Kobani. How can we return?” he wondered, pointing out that his four-story shop in Kobani’s main market collapsed after shelling. “We need international protection.”
A Kurdish victory in Kobani is likely to be greeted with mixed feelings by Turkey because of YPG’s close connection to the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party, an organization that is considered terrorist by Ankara and the West. PKK fought a decadeslong war against security forces in ethnically Kurdish parts of Turkey and its leader Abdullah Ocalan is currently in a Turkish prison.
At a funeral Monday in Suruç for an YPG fighter killed in Kobani several dozen Syrian Kurds—some dressed in vests with Mr. Ocalan’s portraits—interspersed the chant “PKK is our mother” with cries of “Martyrs do not die.”
Police didn’t interfere in Suruç but in Istanbul, they dispersed the nearly 2,000 people who had gathered in the city center to celebrate Kurdish advances in Kobani.
CNN)Kurdish fighters have taken the Syrian city of Kobani from ISIS’ grip after 112 days of fighting with the Sunni extremist group, multiple sources said Monday.
The announcement comes a day after an Iraqi official declared that Iraq’s Diyala Province had been “liberated” from ISIS.
Idriss Nassan, Kobani’s deputy foreign minister, told CNN he expects an official announcement Tuesday “if things continue this way.”
“YPG is in control,” Nassan said, using the acronym for the People’s Protection Units. “They are making sure to clear the streets and the places from ISIS to declare it a free city.”
YPG spokesman Polat Can confirmed the news in a tweet: “Congratulations for liberation of Kobani to all of humanity, Kurdistan and people of Kobani.”
Nassan called for the quick implementation of a “humanitarian corridor” to help the myriad refugees in the city, whom, he said, “need everything.”
A Kobani official, who did not want to be named because it would interfere with Tuesday’s official announcement, said the Kurds were going house to house in the newly liberated area to check for booby traps. Once the traps are removed or defused, the fighters will invite residents to return to their homes, the official said.
According to London-based opposition group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — which also confirmed Kobani was liberated — since October 6, when ISIS first raised its banner on the city’s outskirts, the fighting among ISIS, YPG and the rebel battalions backing YPG has killed 979 ISIS combatants, 324 YPG fighters and 12 rebels.
Thirty-eight more ISIS militants died in attacks using booby-trapped vehicles or explosive belts, and the ISIS shelling of Kobani killed 12 civilians, SOHR said.
“On the other hand, hundreds of (ISIS) militants died during U.S. and Arab allies’ airstrikes on the city and its countryside. Meanwhile, large parts of the city have become uninhabitable due to U.S. and Arab allies air raids, detonation of booby-trapped vehicles and mutual shelling,” the group said.
Kobani apparently declared itself autonomous exactly one year before Monday’s victory, SOHR said.
Iraqi victory claimed over ISIS in Diyala
A large-scale military operation to reclaim Iraq’s Diyala Province from ISIS was successful, Iraqi transportation minister Hadi al-Amiri said Sunday.
The operation started last week, and at least 58 people — including two journalists — were killed. Nearly 300 others were wounded.
In a televised news conference Sunday, al-Ameri, who is also the head of the a powerful Shiite militia, said the province was “liberated” from ISIS.
Al-Amiri said that Iraqi security forces are searching for ISIS militants who fled into orchards and farms in remote areas.
Diyala Police commander Brig. Gen. Jamil Kamel al-Shamari also announced that Diyala is now under full control of Iraqi security forces.