A YPG fighter scans the area with binoculars. Photo: Flickr
QAMISHLO - Kurdish forces in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) said Saturday they have killed nearly 700 Islamic militants in one month of fighting around Kobane and repelled most of the attacks waged against their stronghold.
An official statement by the Peoples Protection Units (YPG), the main military force in Syria’s Kurdish areas, said that in July the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) attacked Kobane from three different directions, with the aim of seizing the city.
“They (IS) attacked us 20 times and four times they tried to infiltrate the city,” the YPG said.
It added that its forces had killed 685 IS militants, and that the corpses of 406 of the Islamic fighters had been left in battle.
According to the YPG statement, the Kurdish forces destroyed six IS tanks and 17 vehicles in the fighting.
YPG leaders said last week that the IS had intensified its attacks on Kobane after returning from western Iraq with heavy weaponry sized from the Iraqi army in Mosul.
The YPG claims could not be independently verified.
The IS which declared an Islamic State in Syria and Iraq last month appears determined to control more Kurdish areas northeast of Syria, which remain a weak link in their Caliphate that covers large parts of Iraq and Syria.
On Friday, the YPG media center revealed its own losses in the recent fighting: it released the names and photographs of 14 of its fighters who it said had been killed in confrontations with IS.
The YPG casualties included one man from the Garmiyan region of Iraqi Kurdistan and five Kurds from Turkey, whose bodies were returned to their hometowns for burial.
The YPG is considered the most organized and disciplined fighting force in Syria, and has halted the advance of the IS and other Syrian rebel groups for more than three years.
The YPG is the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) which declared autonomy in Rojava in January, setting up the “cantons” of Kobane, Cizire and Afrin, each with its own local government and ministers.
Abdulkarim Saroxan, the defense minister of Cizire, said last week that they are building a new army in Rojava, claiming it would be “the strongest fighting force in the Middle East.”
Saroxan spoke of a new law that the three autonomous Kurdish cantons passed last month on compulsory military service.
“Self-defense is a moral and social duty and it falls on the shoulders of all the ethnic groups in Rojava,” said Saroxan at a conference in the town of Rimelan.
Over the past three years thousands of Arab and Christian families have fled the rest of Syria and taken shelter in areas controlled by the YPG.
The situation in Rojava is mirrored in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq, where Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been a bulwark against IS attacks, and where some one million refugees from Syria and other parts of Iraq have sought shelter in the country’s only secure portion.