Violent street fighting in Kobane as PYD says 2,000 civilians remain

Violent street fighting in Kobane as PYD says 2,000 civilians remain

KOBANE – Doğan News Agency
Violent street fighting in Kobane as PYD says 2,000 civilians remain

Doğan News Agency reports that the Syrian Kurdish city attacked by ISIL militants for a month has become a ghost town, as Kurdish officials call for an international monitoring team to protect the remaining civilians. DHA Photo / Hasan Kırmızıtaş

The Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, which has been under assault by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadists for a month, has turned into a ghost town where street clashes prevail, a Doğan News Agency journalist has reported from the city.

According to the report, 2,000 civilians still remain in the city despite ISIL's continuous assaults, as officials are seeking ways to protect them.

ISIL has increased its attacks on the area near the crossing gate at the Turkish-Syrian border, prompting the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), to take position within the city limits.

The YPG has deployed snipers to “almost every roof” in the city to prevent ISIL militants from trying to infiltrate the city and organize suicide attacks.

A three-story building on the border with Turkey, facing the Mürşitpınar crossing gate, was turned into headquarters by ISIL, while a second building nearby is being used as an infirmary.

“ISIL is trying to break the YPG’s resistance with suicide attacks, but all of those assaults have been pushed back by the YPG so far,” said Anwar Muslim, the head of Kobane’s local government and brother of PYD leader Salih Muslim. ISIL militants are as close as one kilometer to the city in the south and east, according to Muslim.

Call to protect civilians

Muslim said there were still around 2,000 civilians who had refused to leave the city who needed urgent protection from the international community.

“I have made a call to send an international delegation of monitors to witness the situation on site. We could work together to protect the civilians,” he said.     

Muslim also denied Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement that only “the YPG and ISIL” were left in the town.

“YPG fighters are not all who are left in Kobane. There are civilians, government officials and NGOs … One of our biggest priorities is to evacuate the civilians,” Muslim said.

“There are still civilians with their families. We have asked the Turkish government to urgently give the Kobane canton the necessary support against ISIL. If we work hand-in-hand, we will push ISIL back, both from the Kobane canton and the Turkish border,” he said.

Arms aid ‘urgent’

While confirming that weapons were sent by the Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, Muslim called on the international community to urgently provide arms to the YPG. “They only have light arms. ISIL attacks with heavy weapons. They are only being stopped after being hit by the air strikes,” he said.

Meanwhile, officials said 605 injured fighters had been treated in Turkey. YPG members were submitted to a thorough check by Turkish soldiers as they were brought to the border to determine if they had a criminal record in Turkey.

Syrian Kurds have accused Turkey of not providing medical assistance, particularly after a number of injured people died at the border before the soldiers agreed to let them be transferred to hospitals.

Almost 200,000 people have taken shelter across the Turkish border after ISIL’s latest assault on Kobane. The town, which typically has a population of roughly 50,000, had seen the number of its inhabitants multiply by four in the past months after jihadists seized a huge number of villages and small towns.