jihadists killed in the battle for the Syrian town of Kobane, a senior
US official says.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units announced
the “liberation” of Kobane on Monday, depriving the Islamic State group
(Isis) of a strategic prize to add to its territory in Syria and Iraq.
The United States says Kurdish fighters are now in control of about 90 per cent of the town on the Syrian-Turkish border.
is now, whether on order or whether they are breaking ranks, is
beginning to withdraw from the town,” a senior US State Department
official told reporters on Tuesday.
But he warned that the militants, also known as Isil, were
“adaptive and resilient” and no one was declaring “mission accomplished”
The US and some 60 coalition partners are engaged in the “first phase of a multi-year campaign”, he stressed.
Kurdish people flash the victory sign during a celebration rally near
the Turkish-Syrian border after the ‘liberation’ of Kobane. Photo / AFP
a victory in Kobane was an important milestone in trying to change “the
narrative” of the militants who have attracted thousands of foreign
fighters to their ranks, mostly disaffected youth drawn by the promise
The Isis group had poured some of its best foreign
fighters into Kobane, the State Department official said, but in the
last six weeks the losses had begun to cause splits in the ranks.
The group has even executed foreign fighters for refusing orders to deploy to the town.
say Isis lost nearly 1200 fighters in the battle, of a total of 1800
killed, despite outgunning Kurdish forces with sophisticated weaponry
captured from Iraqi and Syrian military bases.
“We don’t get into
body counts, but it’s in the four figures in terms of the overall
number of Isil fighters that have been killed,” the State Department
Many foreign fighters – many of them
Australians, Belgians, Canadians and Chechens – were among them, he
said, refusing to give exact figures other than to say “it was hugely,
“The entire notion of this organisation
which is on the march, inevitable expansion, (its) overall momentum has
been halted at Kobane,” he added.
The US began airstrikes on IS
to stop its march on Kobane in September and in October airdropped in
critical supplies to the anti-Isis fighters.
Washington also worked with Turkey to open a land corridor to allow peshmerga fighters to help defend the beleaguered town.
the eyes of the international media watching, the militants “wanted to
raise the largest flag they ever made over Kobane,” the US official
“Kobane shows that you’re not going to be part of something
great … so the whole narrative that ISIL is trying to put out, Kobane
really puts a dent in it.”