Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Islamic State (IS) militia has taken three quarters of the town of Kobane, on the border between Syria and Turkey, after a long battle fought street by street with the Kurdish peshmerga. It is a center of enormous strategic importance, and had been held by the Kurdish troops for two years when they took control of the area after the retreat of the Damascus army.
Earlier this year the militants had seized the surrounding areas, laying siege to the city on three different fronts; the final offensive began on September 16 and has caused the mass exodus of more than 100 thousand refugees over the Turkish border.
The Islamist fighters penetrated from the eastern districts, raising their black flag on the buildings and the surrounding hills. Local sources report that at least 2 thousand civilians have fled the city, heading for the border with Turkey, bringing the total number to over 180 thousand displaced persons.
According to experts control of Kobane will give the Islamic State a large chunk of the border that separates Syria from Turkey, at least 100 km of territory to add to their stronghold, Raqqa.
The Kurdish fighters are pleading for help and support from Ankara, although so far the Turkish government has shown little interest in halting the advance of the IS.
This morning in al-hassaka (in northern Syria, some 220 kilometers east of Kobane) at least 30 Kurdish fighters of the Unit for the Protection of the People (YPG) died in a double suicide bombing.
From the Turkish front there is news of a prisoner exchange with the Islamic State: over 180 fighters in the jihad - including French, British, Macedonian, Swedish and a Swiss national- were released in exchange for 46 diplomats from Ankara, seized in recent months. This is according to sources for the Times, whom the British government believes "credible".
This latest IS military success in Kobane reveals the ineffectiveness of the strategy fielded by the coalition, supported and guided by the White House to stop the militants. Kurdish Officer Idris Nahsen confirms that the Arab-American aerial bombing "is not enough to defeat the terrorists on the ground", that they can count on inertia, if not the connivance of some non-hostile governments such as Turkey .
The drama of the situation on the ground is confirmed by the testimonies from doctors and the medical staff at the Suruc hospital, not far from the battlefield of Kobane. A little more than two weeks of battle have caused hundreds of deaths on both sides, including women and civilians; the conditions of the wounded are often too severe for the limited resources available. The hospital corridors provide the terrible reality of abandoned elderly in wheelchairs, children clinging to their mothers already deeply and permanently marked by the tragedies of war.