KOBANE BORDER—Kurdish forces inside Kobane said today that the city is now under full control and Islamic State (ISIS) militants have been driven out of all neighbourhoods.
Muslih Zebari, a Peshmerga commander in Kobane told Rudaw that ISIS militants remain only in a small village attached to the city “And the Peshmerga and YPG fighters are already on their way there,”
“Retaking that village is easy and today all of Kobane will be free,” he said.
A strong ISIS force invaded Kobane in mid-September last year but a coalition of YPG fighters, Peshmerga and US airstrikes halted the radical group’s advance until it was liberated today.
Zebari said that the Peoples Protection Units (YPG) and the Peshmerga are gearing up to drive out ISIS from several other villages in the outskirts of the city.
“In the fighting, an ISIS tank and lots of ammunition have fallen in the hands of the Kurdish forces,” Zebari added.
Zebari said that the only Kurdish casualties were a few soldiers with slight injuries.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the YPG fighters have killed more than 1,000 ISIS militants in the battle for Kobane.
Kurdish militia drove the Islamic State group from the Syrian town of Kobane and raised their flags on Monday, dealing the jihadists an important blow after months of heavy fighting.
Across the border in Iraq meanwhile, a top army officer announced troops had “liberated” Diyala province from IS jihadists.
In Syria, the Kurdish advance marked the culmination of a battle lasting more than four months in which nearly 1,800 people were killed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) had “expelled all Islamic State fighters from Kobane and have full control of the town”.
“The Kurds are pursuing some jihadists on the eastern outskirts of Kobane, but there is no more fighting inside now,” said the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman.
US Central Command said Kurdish forces now had control of 90 percent of Kobane.
“While the fight against ISIL (IS) is far from over, ISIL’s failure in Kobane has denied them one of their strategic objectives,” Central Command said in a statement.
Kurdish forces were carrying out “mopping-up operations” against remaining IS forces in the Maqtala district, on the town’s eastern outskirts.
YPG spokesman Polat Jan also announced the news on Twitter, writing: “Congratulations to humanity, Kurdistan, and the people of Kobane on the liberation of Kobane.”
Mustafa Ebdi, an activist from the town, said the “fighting has stopped”.
YPG forces were “advancing carefully in Maqtala because of the threat of mines and car bombs,” he added.
The United States, which has led a coalition bombing IS forces in Syria and Iraq, was cautious, declining to confirm an end to the battle.
Heavy coalition bombing
The Kurdish advance came after the Pentagon said the international coalition had carried out 17 air strikes against jihadist positions in Kobane within 24 hours.
The targets included “tactical units” and “fighting positions” as well as an IS vehicle and staging areas.
The loss of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, would be an important defeat for IS.
The group has lost 1,196 fighters since it began its advance on the town on September 16, said the British-based Observatory.
At one point, the jihadist group had looked poised to overrun Kobane.
IS wielded sophisticated weapons captured from military bases in Syria and Iraq and committed hundreds of fighters to the battle.
But Kurdish forces gradually pushed back the jihadists with the help of the US-led air raids and a group of fighters from Iraq’s Kurdish peshmerga forces.