Kurdish forces took back control of the Syrian town of Kobani on Monday, almost entirely driving out the Islamic State fighters after nearly four months of bloodshed.
The Syrian Kurdish forces have been backed by near daily US-led air strikes around Kobani with added support from Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in their fight against Isis (also known as Islamic State) militants since September.
The militants suffered a setback at the start of the year when Kurdish fighters captured a vital area of Kobani known as its “security quarter”, which houses the police headquarters and government buildings.
It was a zone that Isis had taken in October but had been losing parts of ever since.
Now Kurdish official Idriss Nassan and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have both declared that Isis has been almost completely expelled from Kobani and the Kurdish flag is flying on the hill that had previously held the Isis black banner.
While some sporadic fighting remains on the edge of the town, the news marks a victory for the embattled Kurds and the US-led coalition, whose American co-ordinator had predicted that Isis would “impale itself” on Kobani.
“The Islamic State is on the verge of defeat,” said Nassan, speaking from Turkey near the Syrian border. “Their defenses have collapsed and its fighters have fled.”
Nassan said he was preparing to head to Kobani on Tuesday and expected the town to be fully free by then.
Since mid-September, the battle for Kobani has killed some 1,600 people, including 1,075 Islamic State group members, 459 Kurdish fighters and 32 civilians, the Observatory reported earlier this month. The Islamic State group, increasingly under pressure, has carried out more than 35 suicide attacks in Kobani in recent weeks, activists say.
Additional reporting by AP
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