Kurdish fighters drive ISIS from Kobane

Beirut - Syrian Kurdish fighters said they had fully secured the town of Kobane near the Turkish border yesterday and killed more than 60 Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, two days after the hardline group launched an incursion with suicide bombers.

Further east, ISIS pressed another assault on government-held

areas of Hasaka city, clashing with the Syrian army after blowing up a security building late last Friday and triggering a government appeal for residents to take up arms.

"The people of the governorate and its surroundings continue to sign up with the Syrian Arab Army in its fight against terror," state television said in a news flash yesterday, playing archive footage of soldiers set to rousing music.

Hasaka's governor described the situation as "fine", but also called on residents to defend the city in a phone call with state TV.

The twin assaults on Kobane and Hasaka came after ISIS suffered two weeks of defeats at the hands of Kurdish-led forces, supported by US-led air strikes.

Mr Redur Xelil, spokesman for the Kurdish YPG militia, said Kobane was quiet and the YPG was combing the town for ISIS fighters in hiding. The YPG blew up a school building used by ISIS in the town yesterday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said, and plumes of smoke could be seen from the Turkish side of the border rising into the air.

The Observatory said a US-led airstrike killed at least 18 ISIS fighters near Kobane.

ISIS has killed around 200 civilians since the assault which started last Thursday, the Observatory said, describing it as one of the worst massacres committed by the group in Syria.

ISIS launched its offensive on government-held areas of Hasaka last Thursday and the United Nations says the violence is estimated to have displaced up to 120,000 people.

"We want to reassure people in the governorate... Hasaka is fine," Governor Mohammad Zaal al-Ali told state TV. However, he also

echoed a government call for people to come back and defend their homes alongside the army.

"All of the people of the governorate who want to, pick up arms to defend it," he urged.

Reuters

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 28, 2015, with the headline 'Kurdish fighters drive ISIS from Kobane'. Print Edition | Subscribe