Smoke rises from the Kurdish city of Kobane following an American airstrike against ISIS positions in November. Photo: AP.
BOSTON, United States – The United States pledged to continue military and humanitarian assistance to the Kurdish city of Kobane in Syria, after Kurdish forces defeated the Islamic State (known as ISIS or ISIL) following a four-month siege.
“We congratulate its (Kobane’s) brave defenders,” US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a briefing to reporters, referring to the Kurdish forces that have been fighting there.
“We’ll continue to support them as we look to the coming weeks ahead. This is an important step in the first phase of a long-term campaign to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL, because of the strategic value ISIL places on Kobani,” she said. “As there are humanitarian needs, whether it’s in Kobane and other places, I expect that we will contribute -- continue to be major contributors,” she added.
Washington assisted Kurdish Peshmerga forces from the Kurdistan Region and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria with weapons and ammunitions. It also has continued an air campaign that helped the Kurds eject ISIS out of the town after four months of fighting.
The renewed US commitment came as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the bombardment of the town by the international coalition and criticized Kurds for celebrating their victory over ISIS.
“Now, they (Kurds) are dancing. What happened? ISIS was ousted from there. Okay. But who will repair the places that were bombarded? Who will repair those demolished places? No one thinks of the future. Will the 200,000 who left be able to return?” Erdogan was quoted as saying by the Today’s Zaman daily.
He also repeated his earlier complaints about the West ignoring the Syrian city of Aleppo.
"When it is about Kobane, the whole world stands up and cooperates. Those who fled Kobane came to us -- 200,000 people. We tell them about Aleppo, nobody listens; 1.2 million people live there. There is economy, history and culture (there). Why aren't you interested?" he asked rhetorically.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said the airstrikes had been effective against ISIS in Kobane, stressing that a “reliable partner” on the ground is key to defeating ISIS.
“I don't think there was a single tipping point. I think the airstrikes helped a lot. It helped when we had -- and we talked about this -- had a reliable partner on the ground in there who could help us fine tune those strikes. That was certainly an important moment, said Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby. “What Kobane shows is that you do have to have reliable partners on the ground,” he added.
Kirby predicted that the airstrikes against ISIS would continue: “We will continue to strike these guys when and where they present themselves.”
Millions of Kurds across the Middle East have been celebrating the liberation of Koabne by dancing and singing in major Kurdish cities and towns.