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Kobane Update October 8

October 8, 2014

As the artillery of IS (Islamic State) rains down shells and mortars on Kobane, the vastly outgunned Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units), still tries to hold the town.

Turkish troops, including 15 tanks, watch passively from across the border and limited US air raids continue, but none of the powerful forces in the region are inclined to intervene decisively — leaving the YPG to face the jihadists assault on their own. Turkish troops didn’t even take action when straying IS artillery shells hit Turkish soil and injured people.

Capturing Kobane would give the jihadists a direct link between their positions in the Syrian province of Aleppo and its stronghold of Raqqa in the east. There is also the suspicion that IS has to break the resistance of Syrian Kurds on order of Turkey and the USA. The town is an important symbol of the Kurdish struggle for independence. It hosted PKK-leader Abdullah Ocalan when he used to live in Syria under the patronage of the late President Hafez al-Assad,

An estimated 9,000 Islamic fighters with 40 tanks (mainly American made M1 Abrams) and heavy artillery are involved in the assault on the town. IS fighters have seized control of the strategic mountain of Mustinur and they are advancing in the eastern and southern parts of the city. On October 7 the IS militants bombed Kobane again with heavy artillery and carried out two suicide car bomb attacks against headquarters of the YPG in the eastern neighborhoods. The intense battle between the YPG (backed by female fighters of the YPJ “Women Protection Units”) and IS fighters claimed the lives of at least 40 Kurds and caused the injury of 300, more than 60 jihadists died.

An Iranian source reports that until now 200 Kurdish defenders of Kobane have died.

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On Sunday, October 6, a Kurdish female fighter blew herself up, killing 10 jihadists. She had stayed behind as Kurdish forces withdrew and mingled with the jihadists before detonating explosives. An YPG statement identified the suicide fighter as Deilar Kanj Khamis, a mother of two young children, better known by her military name, Arin Mirkan. She was a member of the Women’s Protection Units, which include about 11,000 female fighters.

 Arin Mirkan will be remembered as a heroine of the Kurdish resistance!

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YPG forces have launched a home-to-home search and the remaining civilians were ordered to leave in less than an hour — more than 700 persons have evacuated the city. There are now an estimated 2000 jihadists inside Kobane, faced by 1600 YPG and YPJ forces, which have been reorganized inside the city to prevent further IS advance. But the YPG is slowly running out of ammunition and it will have to abandon the town if Turkey doesn’t allow supplies in.

Omar Sheikhmous, a veteran Kurdish leader, said that Turkey has used the desperation of the Kurds in Kobane to extract political concessions from them before allowing reinforcements and supplies to reach the YPG. Right now it is not known what the concessions might be and if reinforcements and supplies indeed are allowed to pass the Turkish border.

PYD leader Salih Muslim has met officials from MIT (the Turkish spy agency) to plead for aid but was told this would only be available if the Syrian Kurds abandoned their claim for self-determination, gave up their self-governing cantons, severed all ties with the Syrian government, and agreed to a Turkish buffer zone inside Syria. Muslim turned down the demands and returned to Kobane.

Iraqi Kurdistan President Massuad Barzani has officially requested access to Kobane via Turkey from the Turkish government. He wants Peshmerga forces to help defend the besieged Syrian Kurdish town from IS advances, an anonymous source close to the president has told BasNews. Barzani asked Turkish officials to let Peshmerga through so they can join the undermanned YPG.

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The US Central Command reported five air strikes around Kobane on October 7, doubling the number carried out since the offensive began. The strikes destroyed three IS vehicles and an antiaircraft artillery piece, damaged a tank and took out a “unit,” a US military statement said.

The air attacks came just as IS launched a push into the center of the town, an advance that at first appeared to succeed. IS fighters had reached the center of Kobane by mid-morning, but one of the airstrikes hit a resupplying convoy, forcing it to turn back, and the advancing fighters lost momentum.

By nightfall, the YPG had pushed the militants almost back to the position from which they had begun their attack. IS responded to this setback with a barrage of artillery fire.

Leaving the Kurds on their own

The United States has rejected formal relations with the PYD (Democratic Union Party), which is the political wing of the YPG.

The PYD, which has administered Kobane and other Kurdish enclaves inside Syria since the Syrian Arab Army withdrew in July 2012, is affiliated with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), and like the PKK has been listed as a terrorist organization by both Turkey and the USA.

Washington held indirect talks with the PYD years ago, trying to force it into a coalition with Kurdish rivals groups (like for instance the Kurdish National Council) and the FSA (Free Syrian Army), but when this attempt didn’t succeed, the Kurds were left on their own, internationally isolated.

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Turkey has not only allowed IS fighters and supplies to pass freely, it has supported IS with logistics and intelligence data. After initially closing the border for Kurdish refugees, Turkey has now reluctantly allowed in about 170,000 refugees, but provides practically no help to them. 20 refugees from Kobane have been arrested by Turkish security forces for suspected membership in the PKK. 300 wounded YPG fighters were moved to hospitals in the Turkish city of Suruc, one can only hope, that they get adequate treatment.

The fall of Kobane will inevitably end the PKK’s 18-month-long cease-fire and lead to further violence in Turkey.

Kurds took to the streets in the Turkish cities of Suruc, Diyarbakir, Adana, Mardin, and Kiziltepe, condemning the Islamists assault against Kobane, and calling on Turkey to help Syrian Kurds against IS. There were also demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara. Police used tear gas, pepper spray, and water cannons to disperse protesters. At least 20 people have been killed and dozens wounded in clashes between Kurdish protesters and Police. Curfews are imposed in six predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces of Turkey.

The attack against Kobane has also led to protests in European cities such as Brussels and Geneva, with hundreds of protesters holding PKK flags.

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Kurdish refugee cat

2 comments

  1. […] Kobane Update October 8 […]

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