ISIL, also known as Da’esh, suffered an important blow in Kobane this week when anti-Da’esh ground forces announced they have largely cleared this strategic Syrian town near the border with Turkey. Peshmerga, Free Syrian Army, and other ground forces have been fighting Da’esh terrorists there for months, and Da’esh positions around the town and surrounding area have been the targets of near-daily air-strikes by U.S.-led coalition forces.
Back in October, when ISIL advanced on Kobane with the world media watching from across the border in Turkey, we saw very clearly that there was an opportunity to significantly degrade ISIL’s ranks, puncture its façade of invincibility, and challenge its false narrative of inevitable momentum.
That’s why the U.S. ordered the October 19 airdrop to Kobane’s defenders. That is why we worked with Turkey and Erbil to open the corridor in early November for Kurdish Peshmerga reinforcements and heavy arms. That is why the Coalition concentrated strikes in this target-rich environment where Da’esh was pouring resources and manpower, including some of its best leaders.
Last November in an interview with the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, Special Envoy to the Coalition to Counter ISIL General John Allen said that Da’esh “has in so many ways, impaled itself on Kobane.” Look at the propaganda campaign and the foreign fighters Da’esh poured into its failed attempt to seize this city.
Da’esh lost at least 1,000 fighters in Kobane, likely more. The overall attrition of its ranks and the destruction of its vehicles and resources have caused dissension within the organization and led some fighters to refuse to fight in Kobane. And now Da’esh is killing those who won’t go.
The United States knows that the fight against Da’esh will be long and hard and will take the efforts of a global coalition from the civilized world to defeat it on the battlefield and in the minds of those who give ear to its destructive and deadly message.
But the routing of Da’esh in Kobane shows the group’s vulnerability. Da’esh can no longer claim to be invincible or inevitable. The United States congratulates the brave defenders of Kobane on this important early step in the long-term campaign to degrade and to ultimately defeat Da’esh.