ISIS on the move: Kurds brace for a massacre in Kobani
By: John Hayward/Human Events /10/7/2014
Hopefully no one gives the Fundraiser-in-Chief an update on his non-war against the non-Islamic Islamic State while gets ready for the seven big-bucks cash parties he’s holding this week. It would ruin his mood, and if I shelled out $10,000 for dinner to hear him talk, I’d want to see him upbeat and smiling.
While Obama raises funds from Democrats, the Islamic State is preparing to raze an important Kurdish city. Somehow ISIS is still on the move, despite all that American bombing, and it’s on the verge of overrunning a Syrian Kurdish town called Kobani, located near the Turkish border. If Kobani falls, not only will the strategic loss to the Kurds be considerable, but unspeakable atrocities on a huge scale would be perpetrated by the victorious Islamic State. Fox News and the Associated Press report on the situation:
The capture of Kobani would give ISIS control of a large swath of land borderingTurkey and eliminate a vital pocket of Kurdish resistance. It would also provide a link between the group’s territory near the ancient Syrian city of Aleppo and its largest operations base at Raqqa in northeastern Syria.
The Associated Press reported that warplanes believed to be part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, commonly known as ISIS, struck militant positions Tuesday. Journalists on the Turkish side of the border heard the sound of warplanes before two large plumes of smoke billowed just west of Kobani. A Fox News crew on the Turkish side of the border reported only one U.S. airstrike in the previous five days.
Fighting continued into Tuesday morning on the outskirts of the town. One coordinator with the Kurdish defenders told The New York Times that their defenses benefited from the new round of airstrikes, but they were still outmatched by the more heavily armed militants.
On Tuesday morning, AP reported that occasional gunfire could be heard in Kobani, also known by the Arabic name Ayn Arab. A flag of the Kurdish force known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, was seen flying over a hill in the center of town.
The Wall Street Journal reported that ISIS fighters had entered the eastern outskirts of the city on Monday after capturing more than 300 surrounding Syrian Kurdish villages in the previous three weeks. The paper also reported that the militants raised their black flag in two separate places, one on top of a civilian apartment building and another on a hilltop near a checkpoint at the city’s eastern entrance. The flag at the checkpoint could be seen by reporters watching from across the border in Turkey.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Kurds forced the jihadists to withdraw from the eastern part of the town in heavy clashes after midnight Tuesday, adding that five loud explosions were heard in the town as warplanes soared overhead. However, a local Kurdish militia commander estimated to The Journal that ISIS fighters were still a mile from the city center. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that ISIS had also taken over several buildings in the southwest of the city.
ISIS doesn’t sound very “degraded,” so I guess their “ultimate destruction” is going to have to wait for a while. The Kurds are putting up a stiff fight, and as the AP notes, American air power has been brought to bear… but the fate of Kobani is still very much in doubt, to the degree that thousands of women and children are being evacuated into Turkey. Turkish ground forces could turn the tide, but they’ve so far been a very passive member of Obama’s Coalition of the Unwilling, parking some armor on the Syrian border to keep ISIS at bay, but not seeking battle with the Islamic State. In fact, they seem more concerned about preventing a mass exodus of routed Kurds onto Turkish soil, leading to demonstrations by unhappy Kurds across Turkey, and even beyond – Kurds living in the Netherlands stormed the Parliament building on Monday night, demanding stronger Western action to prevent the fall of Kobani. There have been water-cannon and tear-gas riots along the Syrian border for weeks.
Turkey has an uneasy relationship with its Kurdish citizens, and isn’t thrilled by the prospect of Greater Kurdistan becoming an independent nation, so they might sit and watch until ISIS has “degraded and ultimately destroyed” their prospective regional rival. The Turks also have that sweet NATO security guarantee backing them up, so they don’t see any reason to act aggressively against the Islamic State as it creeps closer to their border. Officially, they claim they’re ready to put some boots on the Syrian ground, but the Turkish prime minister said he’s waiting to hear a “clear strategy.” That’s a stunning rebuke to Barack Obama’s mismanagement of this war. A vital Kurdish town is about to fall, producing a nauseating humanitarian tragedy, and Turkish forces are sitting idle because Obama’s doing Democrat fundraisers instead of formulating a clear strategy and getting the Turks into the fight?
Another problem with the Turks is that they wanted to see the Assad regime deposed in Syria, but Obama’s action is going to cement Assad in place – American bombs are falling on the even bigger monsters who were Assad’s most credible military threat. We’re bombing the second-most-credible threat to Assad, too, namely al-Qaeda, which has been renamed “The Khorasan Group” by Obama spinmeisters. The “moderate” Syrians we’re counting on to serve as proxy forces against ISIS are busy forging alliances with al-Qaeda, which means we’re training and arming people who could end up shooting at us with our own weapons, or at best taking what we’ve given them and resuming their stated mission of overthrowing Assad instead of battling ISIS.
We’ve heard a lot about the squads of female Kurdish fighters in recent weeks, with assertions that ISIS is terrified of fighting them, because they think they’ll be denied entry to jihadi Valhalla if a woman kills them. Well, a celebrated female Kurdish commander fighting to protect Kobani just killed herself with a grenade to avoid capture by the Islamic State monsters. She apparently feared capture after running out of ammunition.
The New York Times previews the horrors to come if Kobani falls:
Anwar Muslim, a coordinator in Kobani for the People’s Protection Committees, a Kurdish militant group known as the Y.P.G., said Monday night that 12,000 civilians were trapped inside the town. He said that his group was running out of heavy ammunition, and with Islamic State militants close by the population was in constant fear of car bombs or suicide bombers.
Rooz Bahjat, who identified himself as a senior security official with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, said that as many as 9,000 Islamic State fighters were closing in on the area, leaving other fronts in eastern and northern Syria and even as far away as Iraq to attack what he called “a bastion of democracy and secularism” in Kobani, which has given shelter to internally displaced Syrians from a wide range of ethnic groups.
“The whole might of ISIS right now is turned onto Kobani,” he said.
The town has essentially been enveloped, surrounded on three sides by better-equipped ISIS forces, cut off from resupply or reinforcement. “Witnesses who had fled Kobani said that old women were being given grenades to throw, and young women with no combat experience were being armed and sent into battle,” according to a Reuters report. CNN sounds like it’s just about ready to stick a fork in Kobani, and it sounds like maybe the Pentagon is too, since at least one official is already trying to spin the fall of the city as overhyped because there are a lot of cameras pointed at it:
A senior defense official said Monday to expect more airstrikes against ISIS targets in the Kobani area.
But that’s easier said than done.
Another senior military official said many ISIS targets in Kobani are too close to the Turkish border or Kurdish forces to strike.
And the Pentagon, the official said, believes there’s a media outcry about the situation in Kobani because reporters are there. Many other towns have fallen to ISIS without TV crews present, the official said.
No matter what role U.S. airstrikes play going forward, such attacks aren’t enough, [Kurdish Kobani official Idriss] Nassan said.
“When I talk to people here in Kobani, they thank the international community, and the United States, they thank the countries who are striking the ISIS. But everyone believes it is not enough,” he said.
The “international community cannot defeat ISIS by just hitting them from the sky. They have to help the people who are fighting — the (Kurdish People’s Protection Unit) YPG, the (rebel) Free Syrian Army who are here on the ground.”
Sorry, guys but you heard what President Obama said about absolutely no boots on the ground, ever, no matter what. The enemy heard him, too. So it looks like we’re about to see ISIS rack up an outright victory in the Nameless Non-War, inflicting horrific atrocities on the Kurds, who were supposed to be the strongest of our three proxy forces against the Islamic State. That success will raise the prestige of the caliphate among scumbags around the world, like the ones who will shortly be in control of Afghanistan again. CNN catches the Taliban fist-bumping ISIS:
Pakistan Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid issued a statement expressing solidarity with ISIS and other fighters in Syria.
“In these times when the enemy is standing against you we ask that you forget internal strife and rivalries and stand up against the nonbeliever army,” Shahid said in the statement. “The Muslims of the world look to you with great expectation, and in this difficult time, we, your mujahidin brothers, are with you and will provide you with fighters and help,” the statement said.
What the hell is he talking about? Didn’t he hear Barack Obama say that ISIS has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Islam? It looks like Obama knows as much about that as he does about running a military campaign.
Update: A Kurdish reporter confronted hapless State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki about the impending fall of Kobani on Monday. It didn’t go well. (Hat tip: Gateway Pundit.)
QUESTION: Over the past 24 hours, we’ve seen only one strike, according to the Central Command, around Kobani. I don’t really understand why there hasn’t been more attacks while large numbers of ISIS fighters are closing in on Kobani. And according to CNN and some other American media reports, they have raised the American flag – the – sorry, Islamic flag over some buildings inside Kobani. Why hasn’t been there more strikes?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I know we have this exchange kind of every single day, which is absolutely fine, but you’re talking about one strike in the last 24 hours. That was the update, you’re right, that came from CENTCOM. There were – that strike destroyed two ISIL fighting positions south of Kobani. Other recent strikes have hit two modular oil refineries, an ISIL training camp, an ISIL-occupied building. So this is an ongoing effort.
QUESTION: They’re not around Kobani, those refineries.
MS. PSAKI: It’s an ongoing effort around – in the same part of the country. I would refer you to DOD for more about their military strategy, but obviously this is something where we’ve long said from the beginning that this would take some time. We’re working closely to do everything we can to help push back ISIL in this part of the country, but again, I don’t have any other military updates from here.
QUESTION: When I talked to – on a daily basis I talk to Kurdish people, Kurdish rebels even, Kurdish politicians on the ground in Syria. They have a different perspective. They say, well, Turkey is now trying to do America’s bid in the country when it comes to ISIS attacks on Kobani, and Turkey yesterday invited Salih Muslim, who is the leader of the Kurdish party, to reach some sort of deal with Turkish intelligence. So are you waiting for Turkey to reach a deal with the Kurdish rebels? That’s why you’re not –
MS. PSAKI: I think we haven’t – clearly we haven’t held back from our own military airstrikes in this regard. There are a range of other countries who have also participated in the last couple of days in strikes in Syria. I don’t have any other update for you.
QUESTION: Just one more thing, Jen. It’s clearly, like, obvious that – I mean, President Obama on the eve of 9/11 said the strategy was to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS. We’ve seen ISIS been degraded in Iraq, but we’ve seen ISIS advancing in Syria. Can we say there are flaws in President Obama’s strategy?
MS. PSAKI: I would not say that. You’re right that the Iraqi Security Forces have certainly pushed back and they have been able to hold and even regain some areas. The efforts that have been underway in Syria have been not – have not been happening as long. I think DOD has addressed some of our strategy, so let me reiterate some of what they’ve said – that the initial round of strikes in Syria had fixed targets, such as command and control nodes, finance centers, training camps and oil refineries. Those kind of strikes will continue. Targeting in Syria is also evolving beyond fixed facilities and also includes more dynamic targeting of a tactical nature, such as vehicles, armored vehicles, convoys.
So obviously there’s certainly a strategy that’s being implemented by our Defense Department.
“Can we say there are flaws in President Obama’s strategy?” Yes, I think people in Kobani are probably saying that right about now.