Since September 15, the city of Kobane in the Kurdish-majority liberated area of Rojava in northern Syria has been under intense attack by the murderous forces of the self-styled "Islamic State (IS)".
In July, Kobane (Arabic name: Ayn al-Arab) was besieged by 5000 IS thugs armed with US heavy weapons seized from the disintegrating Iraqi army. The defenders managed to hold out and inflict a heavy defeat on the IS gangs. But this time the attack appears far more serious.
As of September 19, 21 outlying villages had fallen to the IS. Located 135km north-east of Aleppo, hard up against the Turkish border, Kobane is now besieged on three sides. The IS forces are using rockets, artillery and tanks to bombard the defenders.
Normally home to 350,000 people, Kobane’s population may have doubled due to people leaving exposed areas and seeking safety in the city.
While Kurds are the majority, the diverse population includes Arabs, Armenians and Turkmen. Rojava’s “democratic confederalism” form of organisation is striking in its effort to be inclusive of all ethnicities and religions, as well as to empower women. It is the polar opposite of the genocidal, women-hating IS.
The defence of the city is being conducted by Rojava’s armed forces, the Peoples Defence Units (YPG). The YPG has waged an heroic struggle against the IS for two years. But as Carl Drott recently wrote on Rudaw.net: “Lack of heavy, advanced weapons has been the Achilles’ heel of the YPG. During a recent visit, Rudaw could also confirm the use [by the IS] of cluster munitions, which lay strewn around a YPG position after the latest IS attack. In open terrain or simple dug-outs, the YPG forces are extremely vulnerable to concentrated ‘Blitzkrieg’-style attacks.”
Turkey has long given support to IS and without it the group would be in a very difficult situation. Now it appears that Turkey is directly sending weapons and munitions to the IS. Trains have been sighted unloading vital supplies at isolated border crossings where IS collects them.
The Kobane government has appealed to the world for support. Kurds in Turkey are preparing to set up camps on the border to prevent IS recruits crossing and to stop the regime providing support to the IS gangs.
The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has led a decades-long struggle for Kurdish rights in Turkey, has called on Kurdish youth to join the YPG in the defence of the city.
Kobane appears to be facing a decisive moment. But so too are the Western governments who are claiming to be the world’s hope against the IS.
The US and its allies could provide heavy weapons to the YPG to enable it to effectively counter the IS gangs but instead they are arming conservative Kurdish forces. The West should demand that NATO member Turkey stop its dirty support of the IS killers.