Islamic State makes deadly return to Syria’s Kobane

Map of Syria. Image source lonelyplanet

Map of Syria. Image source lonelyplanet

ISLAMIC State (IS) fighters have attacked the Syrian city of Kobane, months after being driven out in a symbolic battle that made international headlines.

Two car bombs and clashes with Kurdish defenders left up to 30 people dead and scores injured. IS shot dead 20 others in a village nearby, activists say.

IS has recently suffered a string of defeats to Kurdish forces.

But in another attack yesterday, it seized parts of the key north-eastern city of Hassakeh.

The militants have tried to capture Hassakeh, about 270km (180 miles) east of Kobane, for months.

According to BBC, Kobane still matters to IS. It was never important strategically, but this latest attack shows that its loss, after five months of heavy street-to-street fighting and coalition aerial bombardment, still hurts IS.

As was the case last November when a huge vehicle bomb exploded at the same spot, questions are being asked if the attackers made it in from the Turkish side, and if so, why Turkey didn’t stop them.

Yesterday’s assault is a reminder, too, that IS, despite recent losses in the area, is still very much active and capable of offensives. Overnight they also attacked Hassakeh to the east, a far bigger prize.

Despite the narrative of the last few weeks, IS is far from being on the back foot.

Hassakeh is the largest city in north-eastern Syria. An estimated 500,000 people live there, in addition to thousands who have fled violence elsewhere.

The apparent two-pronged IS offensive came as Kurdish fighters from the Popular Protection Units (YPG) cut a major supply line for IS near Raqqa.

Raqqa is the de facto capital of the caliphate whose creation IS announced a year ago after it captured large swathes of northern and western Iraq.

The IS attack on Kobane began with militants detonating a car bomb – followed by an assault from dozens of IS fighters from a number of directions.

Some may have hidden themselves among returning refugees – there are also reports that they disguised themselves by wearing Kurdish militia uniforms, says BBC.

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