The US Is Now Hammering ISIS Near Kobane

RTR4C24KReutersA convoy of peshmerga vehicles is escorted by Turkish Kurds on their way to the Turkish-Syrian border, in Kiziltepe near the southeastern city of Mardin on October 29, 2014.

The Syrian border city of Kobane has been under siege from ISIS for nearly two months. At one point, the jihadist group had the city encircled, and was flying its black flag on hills that were clearly visible from the Turkish side of the frontier.

U.S. forces staged 10 air strikes on Islamic State targets near Kobani on Wednesday, hitting two small Islamic State units and destroyed seven fighting positions and five buildings.

U.S. Central Command noted that the strikes also damaged an ISIS headquarters building near Dayr Az Zawr and a security building near Ar Raqqah.

U.S. forces were joined by allies in raids in Iraq that hit small Islamic State unit near Bayji and checkpoint west of Ramadi.

There’s evidence that the allied effort to the defend Kobane is making significant headway in Kobani.

On Wednesday, US bombers destroyed an ISIS command-and-control node near the battlefield. John Allen, the retired general in charge of overseeing the US effort against the group, now believes that ISIS Will not take the city.

Screen Shot 2014 10 30 at 11.32.01 AMReutersCoalition airstrikes against ISIS targets as of October 19, 2014.

Allen’s certainty is based in another important development: Turkey is now allowing Iraqi and Turkish Kurds to enter Kobane from its territory.

The fight over the city turned into a domestic political crisis for Ankara, whose refusal to intervene in the city triggered widespread protests among the country’s Kurdish minority.

Turkey was hesitant to defend a city that’s historically been a hotbed of support for anti-Ankara Kurdish militants operating in Turkey. Turkey’s refusal to help reinforce Kobane might also have been an expression of its frustration over the US’s failure to adequately push for the Assad regime’s ouster, a centrepiece of Turkish policy in Syria for over 3 years.

But Turkey has apparently decided that the need to prevent Kobane from falling outweighs its other interests in a highly-complex dynamic around its border with Syria. A group of 150 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters is currently en route to the city through Turkish territory. Along the border, the armed convoy received a jubilant welcome from local Kurds.

ISIS committed substantial resources to taking the city, at a time when the jihadist group was facing US airstrikes and fighting the Iraqi and Syrian militaries and Shi’ite militia groups along multiple fronts.

ISIS’s investment of arms and manpower is about to come up empty — a key potential victory in the fight against the world’s most powerful jihadist group.

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