Airstrikes Increase in Fight for Kobani

Islamic State, area of control in Syria and Iraq, Oct. 15, 2014
Islamic State, area of control in Syria and Iraq, Oct. 15, 2014

Even with 14 airstrikes carried out by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia on the town of Kobani in Syria in support of the Kurdish fighters on the ground on Wednesday and Thursday, the Pentagon says that Kobani may still fall to the Islamic State.

More and more Islamic State fighters continue to pour into the city in conflict. The Pentagon says that the increase in airstrikes is directly correlated with the increased targets as more on more ISIL fighters make their way into the fight.

“They have continued to flow fighters to Kobani, meaning there are more targets in and around Kobani. So, one of the reasons you’re seeing so many strikes there is because there’s more ISIL there. We believe, and it’s hard to give an exact number, that we have killed several hundred ISIL fighters in and around Kobani,” said Rear Admiral John Kirby, a spokesman for the Pentagon.

The fighting for Kobani has been intense and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in Britain says that as many as 660 people have died in the fighting in the last month.  The SOHR stated that of that number, 374 of those killed were ISIL militants. The remainder of those dead are Kurdish fighters and civilians. But, the Observatory says that the number that they gave could only be half of the actual number. They cite the secrecy carried out by both sides as a factor in the totals.

Kirby acknowledged that the nature of the fight is complicated and said there will be wins and losses and also said the fight against ISIL is expected to be a long one.

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Former Marine General John Allen, President Obama’s envoy to the Global Coalition said in a statement, that the airstrikes are meant to slow the tactical momentum of ISIL. “We’re actually focusing, obviously, around Kobani, providing airstrikes to provide humanitarian assistance and relief there, obviously to give some time to the [anti-Islamic State] fighters to organize on the ground. But, in Anbar province [in western Iraq], our hope is to stop or halt that tactical initiative and momentum that they have there,” he said.