Hot spot in war: Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane
KOBANE / ŞANLIURFA
Kurds clash with Turkish soldiers near the Syrian border after Turkish authorities temporarily closed the border at the southeastern town of Suruç in Sanliurfa province, on September 21, 2014. AFP PhotoThe Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has seized dozens of villages in a lightning offensive as it closed in on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, prompting a mass exodus of its residents.
After ISIL’s siege of Kobane, more than 130,000 Syrians arrived in the Turkish province of Şanlıurfa, which officially hosts nearly 200,000 internally displaced people, mainly from Syria’s Kurdish minority. ISIL is continuing to clash with forces from the People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Tell Abyad and Kobane.
Hürriyet correspondent Faruk Balıkçı travelled to Kobane to report from the war-torn town:
- Syrian Kurds who were fleeing their homes reportedly said they had no chance for survival other than leaving their villages, as ISIL militants have surrounded Kobane.
- At the entrance to Kobane, a YPG member joined the reporters. They headed to the center of the town together in a car provided by the YPG.
- While proceeding to Kobane, Kurdish songs and the YPG anthem were playing in the car. The driver turned the volume up to give moral support to locals when they approached the center of Kobane, which has largely become a ghost town.
- Civilians were poised for a possible battle in the town, armed with their guns.
- Barriers have been built around the entrances of the town.
- The town's only hospital is being used for emergency cases only, as the electricity has been cut by ISIL.
- Some 200 people, including some who have come from Turkey to fight ISIL, registered at the security center.
- Newcomers are not sent to the battlefront, but are instead assigned to defend the town, YPG members said, adding that all new recruits “will be trained.”
- Sipan Hemo, the YPG member responsible for Kobane, said they would "resist to the end" and vowed not to give up Kobane to ISIL.
“This is not the first attack, but it is the first time [ISIL] has used such heavy weapons. Around 250 ISIL members have been killed since the attack began. The YPG hit ISIL heavily and seized some heavy weapons. Most of ISIL’s weapons are from Turkey,” Hemo said.
“The people who can fight stay in Kobane. It is mostly the elderly, women and children who migrate,” he added.
Clashes on the border
Clashes erupted near the Syrian border with Şanlıurfa on Sept. 21, when security forces prevented Kurds from crossing the border to battle the jihadists’ besieging Kobane.
The group, which gathered at a tent built by members of Democratic Regions Party (DBP) in Suruç, threw stones at security forces as police responded with tear gas and water cannons to disperse them.
As many as 6,000 Kurds clashed with the police at one point, before security forces drove them almost five kilometers from the border.