A Kurdish family fleeing Kobane. Turkey says at least 130,000 refugees have crossed over its border since Friday. Photo: AFP.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Syrian Kurds in Kobane warned on Monday they are facing a “second Shingal” at the hands of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) unless the international community intervenes within days.
As the jihadist fighters advanced towards the border city, Adham Basho of the Syrian Kurdish Azadi Party told Rudaw that IS was now within 10 kilometers of Kobane and the residents faced a “very difficult” situation.
He said they faced a similar fate to the Yezidis of Shingal in northern Iraq, who were marooned on mountain tops in their thousands in August before help came to the rescue.
An estimated 130,000 people from in and around Kobane have fled the region to Turkey since IS renewed attacks on the area last Monday. In July, the militants were repelled with the help of Kurds who crossed the border from Turkey.
The self-proclaimed Islamic State swept across northern Iraq in June, seizing Mosul and Iraqi heavy weaponry that is now being used against the Syrian Kurds, they say.
“If the international community does not intervene, we will have a second Shingal as IS advances further,” Basho said in a telephone interview from the Syria-Turkish border.
“All the people from the Kobane areas have fled to the Turkish border and they have a difficult time because they are stuck there as Turkey has closed it,” he said, referring to the border.
Mahmoud Kalo, the head of the Kurdish National Council, an umbrella group of Syrian Kurdish political parties, told Rudaw from inside Kobane that the parties were holding a meeting in the town to discuss the situation.
He said Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have halted the IS advance to the east of the town, would only be able to hold their lines for two more days before they ran out of supplies.
“We want the international community to impose an exclusion zone in and around Kobane to protect it from the ISIS militants. The people of Kobane can only fight IISIS for two more days without the international community’s support,” said Kalo.
“If there is no immediate assistance from the international community there will be a second Sinjar (Shingal).”
A large number of young Kurds want to go to Kobane from the Kurdish region of Turkey but Turkish soldiers and police had blocked their way, he said.
“There are clashes right now between the Kurdish youths and the Turkish police and a number of police officers have been injured. Several Kurds have managed to pass the border and headed to Kobane,” he added.
Kobane, which has a population of around 200,000, is surrounded by IS in the east, west and south.
“ISIS is bombing areas around Kobane, including Sozan and Bobane villages in the west, Shikh Choopar in the south, and Ali Share in the east,” said Kalo.
“Despite the lack of outside support, we have managed to stop their advance towards Kobane for the last 24 hours.”
Salih Muslim, head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the main Syrian Kurdish party, said Kurdish fighters had inflicted “major blows” against IS, according to Kurdish Question, an internet news service published in Turkey.
"Despite their technical and military supremacy, our forces our inflicting major blows,” he said. “As of this morning, the intensity of their attacks has been broken. However, the war is continuing.”
He acknowledged Kurdish forces need more and better weapons, but struck a defiant tone.
"Kobane will not fall. I am from Kobane. I know the people of Kobane very well,” Muslim was quoted as saying.
“Some villages can be lost, certain retreats can happen. They can close in on the city. But Kobane will never fall. For Kobane to fall, everyone there must be killed.”