Kurdish Fighters Push ISIS Out of Kobane

Syrian Kurds, backed by US-led airstrikes, have been battling to hold off an Islamic State onslaught that began in mid-September.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
A Kurdish fighter in Kobane.Credit: AP

Syrian Kurdish fighters Monday pushed Islamic State jihadists out of the embattled town of Kobane, a monitoring group said.

The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) captured the Kani Araban district from the extremists in the morning, and later retook the last remaining areas of the town, which lies on the Turkish border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

YPG fighters were pushing into a village on the southeastern outskirts and from Tuesday would take the fight to the jihadist-held countryside around the border town, Kobane defense chief Ismet Hassan told dpa.

Kobane "has been surrounded for two years and is still surrounded" despite the victory, Hassan warned. He added that Kurdish villages in a radius of 40 kilometers around the town remain occupied by the jihadists.

"We call on the world to open a humanitarian corridor to support Kobane," he said.

The YPG, backed up by US-led airstrikes and by Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga with heavy weapons, have been battling to hold off an Islamic State onslaught that began in mid-September.

In Moscow, meanwhile, members of the Syrian opposition met for a fresh attempt at defusing the country's bloody civil war.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that "27 to 28" opposition members had come to Moscow for the talks.

According to Arab media reports, the opposition members, led by former UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, will negotiate among themselves for two days before Syrian government representatives join the talks Wednesday.

Among them are two members of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change. Its leader, Mounzer Khaddam, said that expectations aren't high. "We do not expect much from this meeting and we hope that the regime will deal seriously with this meeting," he told dpa by phone from Syria.

Not invited to the Moscow talks are radical Islamists, including the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State. Also not present is the Istanbul-based National Coalition, the main Western-backed external opposition group.

Coalition spokeswoman Sarah Karkour said that nine of its members had declined an invitation to participate as individuals.

Turkey on Monday opened its largest refugee camp to date, in the southern city of Suruc. Near the border with Syria, it has a capacity to take in 35,000 refugees, a spokesman for AFAD, the Turkish catastrophe relief agency, told dpa.

About 140,000 Syrians are spread out across 25 camps throughout Turkey's border region with Syria. Overall, about 1.6 million Syrians have fled their country, which has been engulfed in civil war for four years.

AFAD said at least one more refugee camp is being planned, in southeastern Turkey.