By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS
As of midday local time today, Friday, the Kurdish YPG were still fighting enclaves of Islamic State fighters embedded in Kobane City.
Smoke Rises Over Kobane Once Again
The death toll had also escalated with as many as 146 dead and 200 injured (some sources putting it even higher), the vast majority civilians including the elderly, and women and children.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) described it as the second worst IS massacre in Syria since they declared their “Caliphate”. Many of the injured remain critical.
Latest reports say that 80 Kurds trapped in the districts of Şehid Moro, Mektele and Kaniya Kurda have now been freed and the last remnants of the IS Jihadist attacking force are holed up in buildings that were damaged in battles last winter.
However, the IS fighters are still holding hostages at 3 locations: a house near Mishtenur Hospital, a house near the town’s cultural centre and a home close to the Mahdathe school.
Some Kurdsih hostages held in a 4th location, a restaurant, have been released and their IS captors killed.
Reports on the original attack are still confused, with many still accusing Turkey as complicit in the attack or allowing it to happen – though there is no definitive proof of that.
The attack started at around 4.40am Kobane local time when 5 vehicles entered the centre of the city from the west and one of them exploded near the Mursitpinar border crossing into Turkey, the site of a similar attack some months ago.
The explosion was captured on CCTV footage from a camera on the Turkish side of the border, here:
The reason that this IS force was able to penetrate into the heart of Kobane is that they had shaved off their beards and were wearing YPG and FSA uniforms. Their vehicles were also decked out with Burkhat Al-Firat, YPG and FSA flags. Burkhat Al-Firat (“Euphrates Volcano”) is the combined force fighting the Islamic State.
Following the primary suicide bomb attack at the frontier gate, the IS Jihadists then attempted to take control of the Kaniya Kurda neighbourhood, the Doctors without Borders Hospital, the Botan district and the Reshad Mosque.
With the Jihadist group were many snipers who then proceeded to shoot randomly at anybody on the street and who also broke into a number of homes wiping out entire families.
The YPG/YPJ quickly surrounded the attacking IS fighters and kill their core group but other individuals and bands of attackers managed to establish footholds in previously destroyed buildings and Mishtenur Hospital.
Recent video, released this morning, of the YPG repelling the Islamic State in Kobane is HERE: and HERE:
While fighting was taking place another vehicle bomb was exploded near the frontier gate and there are also unconfirmed reports of a third.
Estimates suggest the IS attacking force numbers 30 or 40 men. There are also unconfirmed reports that 300 Jihadists who escaped from Tal Abyad are now in Jarablous, west of the Euphrates, and some of the attackers may be a remnant of that force.
Many of the civilians wounded in Kobane have been shipped across the border to hospitals in Turkey, while hundreds of others (uninjured) slept on the ground near the frontier, too terrified to return home, here:
Concurrent with the primary attack on Kobane early on Thursday morning, the IS Jihadists attacked the village of Berxbatan (Barkh Butan), at 5.30am on Thursday morning, as reported previously, on Kobane Canton’s southern frontier.
The death toll there is now reported as 33 villagers, many of them having been beheaded, and at least 15 wounded. The nearby village of Zerik and a hill at Sevê were also attacked, but as many as 30 x IS fighters were reported killed in the ensuing gun battles with the YPG in the area.
Many are now seeing the IS attack as revenge for the capture of by Kurdish forces of Tal Abyad and Ain Issa and for getting “far too close” to their “Syrian capital” of Raqqah.
Dr Muhamad Ali Lost His Entire Famly to IS Attackers
(EDITOR: I doubt if the Kurds will be deterred. With the help of the FSA and the Coalition they will, hopefully, be spurred on to wipe this dreadful evil from the Earth.
IS related attacks have also been reported today, Friday, in France, Kuwait and Tunisia.)
Between Ain Issa and Raqqah the YPG have also confirmed that they have control of the main road and have liberated 2 villages near the Belikh water tower.
6 x IS Jihadists were killed and weapons and ammunition captured in the clashes.
France24 has a report and commentary on events in Kobane over the last 24 hours.
In Hasakah city, the Islamic State are reported to have taken control of the “petroleum barrier” to the east of the city as well as the southern districts they took hold of yesterday.
There are also unconfirmed reports that they have been aided by defectors from Assad’s National Defence Force (NDF), who cleared the way for the Jihadists entrance into the city. (Reports of armed conflict between elements of the NDF and Assad’s regular troops have been reported on several occasions.)
Between 50,000 and 60,000 local residents in Hasakah are said to have fled the city, 10,000 of them heading northwards towards the Turkish border. All of which makes a nonsense of the Syrian Government’s claims, published on state media, that “Hasakah is safe” and the situation there is “stable”.
You can read more, HERE:
So far the Coalition has not got involved in helping the Assad regime defend against the Islamic State, but if Government areas in the Hasakah fall, will they come to the aid of the YPG defending the northern Kurdish districts in the city? Time will tell.
WELL EQUIPPED OPPOSITION LAUNCH MAJOR CAMPAIGN TO TAKE DARAA CITY, THE BIRTH PLACE OF THE REVOLUTION:
In the very south of Syria, the Opposition coalition, the Southern Front, have launched a major campaign to try and capture the city of Daraa, where the Syrian revolution began in 2011 when some children were arrested and tortured after putting up anti-Assad graffiti.
Due to have been launched early on Wednesday, it was delayed 24 hours to let more civilians flee the city.
Opposition Tank Shells Assad’s Troops in Deraa 25.06.15
Currently the campaign, called “Southern Storm”, is targeting Assad regime forces inside the city with mortar rounds and artillery and directing heavy fire on troop concentrations near Atma a few kilometres north of the city.
A direct hit on a power station to the north of Daraa has cut electricity supplies.
Assad’s Air Force has retaliated with between 60 and 70 barrel-bomb attacks in the last 36 hours on Opposition-held villages in the province.
3 shells also landed in the Jordanian border town of Ramtha, killing 1 man and injuring 4 more.
Reports yesterday said that the Opposition had taken 5 checkpoints and were very near the National Hospital in Daraa and a key roundabout, but they have met stiff resistance.
34 Opposition fighters and a similar number on the regime side were reported killed in the first 24 hours, including 2 brigadier generals.
However, the Opposition, a coalition of 51 brigades, many aligned to the FSA, seem very well equipped and prepared for a long battle if necessary.
They prepare for battle, [EDITOR: Commander has very nice hair! :)] HERE:
The Opposition shell Assad’s troop concentrations, HERE: and hit them with tank shells, HERE:
More attacks on regime areas, HERE: and an Assad tank destroyed with a TOW missile, [EDITOR: Though the cameraman is not paying attention! :)]HERE:
Lastly, more footage of heavy fighting but with the funniest/most over-produced intro of the year! HERE: