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Syria

Mixed messages from Washington on Kobane air strikes

By Namo Abdulla 16/10/2014
The US military subsequently increased the number of air strikes around the besieged town to nearly 40 over the past two days. Photo: AP
The US military subsequently increased the number of air strikes around the besieged town to nearly 40 over the past two days. Photo: AP
Washington - The predominately Kurdish Syrian town of Kobane has become a symbol for Kurdish resistance against Islamic State extremists. With the help of United States airstrikes, Kurdish fighters have held out against the ISIS invaders for weeks.  

Last week, when Kobane seemed on the verge of falling, Secretary of State John Kerry said the town, near the Turkish border, did not constitute a “strategic objective” for the US. 

That said, the US military subsequently increased the number of air strikes around the besieged town to nearly 40 over the past two days.

Asked why, General John Allen, President Barack Obama’s special envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition, replied, “Obviously we are striking the targets around Kobane for humanitarian purposes.”  

But at around almost the same time as Mr. Allen was speaking at the State Department, Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby was holding his own press conference. He said: “The great majority of the population of that town has evacuated and left. It ranges every day, but it is in the realm of hundreds or so of people left there in Kobane.” 

So are the United States intensive air strikes truly to protect a few hundred civilians? John Kirby provides a different reason: “They [ISIS] have continued to flow fighters to Kobane, meaning there are more targets in and around Kobane.”

“So one of the reasons why you are seeing more strikes there is because there is more ISIL there,” he said, using the administration’s preferred acronym for the jihadists. “We believe - and it’s hard to give an exact number - we have killed several hundred ISIL fighters, again in and around Kobane,” Mr. Kirby added.  

Even if the increased air strikes do not amount to a rethinking of the US position on the significance of Kobane, the persistence with which ISIS fighters have been attempting to capture it leaves little doubt that it is a strategic objective for them.

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Jovan Shengali | 16/10/2014
Surely the US could stop ISIL from advancing or entering Kobane, their drones can see mice on the ground, how could jihadist murderers flow into Kobane without the US been able to stop them!!!
Tanin | 16/10/2014
I previosly asked the editor why you do not call those barbarian cannibals of ISIS as terrorists but the question was not answered. What I now see in the text above you have written "ISIS invaders" maybe for the very first time. Why and what is that? Do you still not see those "invaders" as terrorists? Or a friendly warning: You should be very careful when you call them invaders, that can also upset them and then you can easily run into trouble with them !!
Fingersoup | 16/10/2014
No, it's because the American people are harassing our politicians nonstop on behalf of our Kurdish allies and demanding action. Elections are coming up so they are actually listening to us.
Matevz | 16/10/2014
Very complicated situation in Syria indeed. Isis attacking Kobane, Kurds defending it. Turkey attacking Kurds in Turkey, US attacking ISIS in Kobane. Turkey blocking Kurdish resupply in Kobane and letting ISIS figters to enter Syria, plus buying their oil... US and Turkey in NATO together? US defending Kurds, Assad as Kurd ally, yet US against Assad. My opinion: Turkey support ISIS, and ISIS behaves like OTOMANS did in Europe, so what else is new in the world?
Enkiu | 16/10/2014
One reason is that Kobane is ISIS killing field. ISIS cannot hide among civilians there and can be bombed and killed. The second reason is that Kobane is now a symbol of resistance, and ISIS has to lose. The third reason for the USA is that Turkey HAS TO be taught a lesson... if Kurds defeat ISIS in Kobane, Turkey would have annoyed allies for no reason... I think the USA is very angry with Turkey and wants to teach it a lesson.
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