Kurdish militias regained control of Kobani, the Syrian border town that became the center of the American-led coalition’s fight against ISIS, local activists said Monday.
An official announcement was expected Tuesday, Idris Nassan, Kobani’s deputy foreign minister, told CNN. Nassan said that the YPG (People’s Protection Unit) was in control of the town. “They are making sure to clear the streets and the places from ISIS to declare it a free city,” he said.
A spokesperson for YPG tweeted Monday: “Congratulations to all of humanity, Kurdistan & the people of Kobani on the liberation of Kobani.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) confirmed Monday that YPG had taken control of Kobani after 112 days of clashes with ISIS militants. The U.K.-based monitoring organization said that YPG fighters were still combing some houses in the eastern suburbs of the city, dismantling and detonating IEDs. SOHR said that the clashes led to a total of 1,313 deaths, including 979 ISIS militants, 324 YPG fighters, and 12 civilians.
The U.S. targeted ISIS in Kobani with more than 700 airstrikes helping to free the small town by killing “hundreds of ISIS militants” according to SOHR. However, the organization said that “large parts of the city have become uninhabitable due to US and Arab allies air raids, detonation of booby-trapped vehicles and mutual shelling.”
The United States Central Command said that about 90% of Kobani was now controlled by anti-Islamic State forces, the New York Times reported.
However, activists cautioned against considering this a victory. They noted how long the extremist group held the minor town in the face of unrelenting U.S-led strikes.
“This can’t be counted as an achievement,” Mustafa Ebdi, a Kurdish activist told the New York Times. “ISIS is the one who decided to retreat.”
Referring to the three months it took to gain control of the small border town, Middle East analyst Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi told NPR, “How long, therefore, would it take for a rebel force to launch offensives to retake major towns from IS in Syria?”
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