ISIS loses ground to Kurds in Syria's Kobane: Monitor

People watch as smokes rises from the town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on Oct 26, 2014, at the Turkish border near the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province. -- PHOTO: AFP
People watch as smokes rises from the town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on Oct 26, 2014, at the Turkish border near the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT (AFP) - The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group has lost ground in the Syrian border town of Kobane, where Kurdish fighters now control more than 60 per cent of territory, a monitoring group said Saturday.

The strategically located town on the border with Turkey has become a major symbol of resistance against ISIS, which has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, committing widespread atrocities.

The militants launched a major offensive in mid-September to try to capture Kobane, and at one point controlled more than half of the town, known in Arabic as Ain al-Arab.

But supported by US-led air strikes and reinforced by Kurds from Iraq, "Kurdish forces now control more than 60 per cent of the city", said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"IS has even left areas that the Kurds did not enter for fear of mines," he added.

A Kurdish activist from Kobane, Mustefa Ebdi, said that Kurdish militia defending the town had advanced eastwards on the frontline during the past week.

ISIS has withdrawn from the seized Kurdish militia headquarters in the north of the city, as well as from southern and central districts, according to activists.

"The Kurdish advance is due largely to the air strikes by the coalition," said Ebdi.

"The jihadists are now using tunnels after failing in their tactics of car bombs and explosive belts," he said.

Dozens of ISIS fighters have carried out suicide bomb attacks in Kobane in the face of fierce Kurdish resistance.

More than 1,000 people are reported to have been killed in the battle for the town, most of them jihadists.