REUTERS - It is still too early to declare "mission accomplished" in Kobani, the northern Syrian town where Kurdish fighters have largely pushed out Islamic State militants, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday.
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"About 90 percent of the town has been retaken and ISIL, whether on order or the fact that they are just breaking ranks, are withdrawing from the town," the official told reporters, adding that the number of Islamic State fighters killed in the fighting in Kobani "is in the four figures."
The mainly Kurdish town close to the Turkish border has become a focus point in the international fight against Islamic State, an Al-Qaida offshoot that has spread across Syria and Iraq.
The senior State Department official said the setback for Islamic State in Kobani did not mean "anyone is declaring mission accomplished or this is a significant turning point."
The official said the majority of militants fighting in Kobani were made up of some of Islamic State's best foreign fighters from Chechnya, Canada, Australia and Belgium.
It became obvious in November they were struggling to hold the town as Iraqi Kurdish pershmerga fighters advanced on the ground, backed by U.S. air strikes, the official added.
The militants launched an assault on Kobani last year using heavy weapons seized in Iraq and forcing tens of thousands of people over the border into Turkey.