Kurds block ISIS supply route to Syria’s Kobane

Thick smoke billows following an air-strike in eastern Kobani November 9, 2014 Picture taken from the Turkish side of the Turkish-Syrian border. (REUTERS)

Kurdish forces blocked a road Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants use to resupply their forces in a Syrian town on the Turkish border, a town official and a monitoring group said on Wednesday, the first major gain against the militants after weeks of violence.

Iraqi-Kurdish Peshmerga forces crossed into Kobane on Oct. 31 to help the besieged Kurdish YPG and YPJ fighters in the town. The combined forces have now cut off the road which leads south east to the village of Hilnij, the sources said.

Despite having limited strategic significance, the battle in Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, has become a powerful symbol in the fight against ISIS. The hardline Sunni Muslim group has captured large expanses of Iraq and Syria and declared an Islamic “caliphate.”

Idris Nassan, a local official in Kobane, said by telephone that anti-ISIS forces had taken the strategic hill of Mistanour and the road which runs along the side of the hill.

“ISIS was using this road for ammunition and fighters,” he said.

He added that Peshmerga forces had been focusing artillery strikes on ISIS positions on the outskirts of Kobane like Mistanour over the past week, to halt ISIS shelling on the town.

Reuters was unable to reach ISIS fighters in Kobane. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Kurdish forces had not taken Mistanour hill but had started fighting on the road to Hilnij, preventing ISIS fighters from using it to resupply.

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga have helped forces in Kobane take some villages around Kobane but the lines of control in the town remain the same.

The town has become a test of the U.S.-led coalition’s ability to halt the advance of the hardline insurgents. It is one of the few areas in Syria where it can co-ordinate air strikes with operations by an effective ground force.

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Last Update: 06:43 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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