Airstrikes and ground fighting in the key Syrian city of Kobane has killed several hundred ISIS fighters, said the Pentagon on Thursday.
On Tuesday, a closed meeting was held at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington to discuss the current situation and what lay ahead for the U.S. operation against ISIS.
The meeting included defense chiefs from 22 nations that have joined the anti-ISIS coalition; Egypt being one of them.
The main purpose of the meeting was to ensure coordination, common understanding and a shared vision as was stated by General Martin Dempsey, U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who co-chaired the meeting with General Lloyd Austin, commanding general of the U.S. Central Command.
President Obama joined the meeting later in the evening and expressed his deep concerns for the threat ISIS is posing, not only on the Middle East, but on the US and the world in general.
He also stressed on the importance of the cooperation of all countries, stating after the meeting that the operation “involves the world.”
One of Egypt’s main roles would be denouncing Islam’s affiliation with the extremist views and actions of the allegedly “Islamic” ISIS. This can be done, as pointed out by U.S states Secretary John Kerry earlier this week, through religious institutions such as Al Azhar.
It can help spread the true values of Islam. This would serve two extremely important purposes. One, preventing hate groups from arising against Islam and Muslims. Two, enlightening those who support ISIS as a form of supporting their Islamic religion, and thus decreasing its popularity in some areas.
Further details of the meeting will only be made public when the executive order is published. It will outline the details of the military operation and is expected to be available in the coming days.
US air strikes intensify in the town of Kobane (Ayn Al-Arab)
Meanwhile, the US continues to support the Kurdish resistance forces in the town of Kobane intensifying the attack to over 20 strikes over the past two days.
Kobane is a predominantly Kurdish town in northern Syria. It was first attacked by ISIS on the 16th of September and since then has lost control of over half of its territory to the ISIS forces. It represents an asset for the terrorist organization as it shares borders with Turkey which would allow it to control the Mursitpinar Border Gate.
The Kurdish forces which mainly consist of the YPG, People’s Protection Units, have been the almost the only resisting forces in Kobane since the beginning of the attacks, until only two weeks ago when the U.S. began its support. Their struggle has been extremely difficult and remains so despite the backing of the U.S and the coalition.
However, analysts have warned that airstrikes are not enough to prevent ISIS’ advance.
As Phillip Hammond pointed out, but with reference to Iraq, “the collation can only deliver support”.
The people of the land “must take the lead on the ground” as he points out. This has not been possible in Kobane for two main reasons.
Firstly, some Sunni citizens in Kobane, have been offering ISIS forces support and aiding them. Secondly, and most importantly, is the YPG’s lack of weaponry, due to Turkey’s refusal to open the borders to transport ammunition to the Kurdish resistance. As Rami Abdelrahman, head of The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said, “Even with the resistance, if things stay like this, the Kurdish forces will be like a car without fuel”.
Despite pressure from the U.S. Turkey has also refused to allow U.S military to utilize the Incrilik Air base to launch air strikes. It can only be used for observation and transportation of charitable aids.
Women Joining the Force
According to a BBC report almost a third of the Kurdish resistance is made up of women.
This is not new to the Kurdish community, for women always been part of their fighting forces. Today however, Mayssa Abdo, known by the nom-de-guerre of Narin Afrin, is commanding the YPG in Kobane along with Mahmud Barkhodan,” said Rami Abdel Rahman.
Moreover, the YPG consists of a women’s wing referred to as the YPJ, Women’s Protection Unit, which has become increasingly famous over the past few days as one of its fighters, called Reham, has been rumored to have killed over a 100 ISIS millitiants single handedly.
There is no evidence for such a rumor. Yet, there is no doubt that women are crucial to the success of the resistance in Kobane. The YPJ fighters represent living opposition of ISIS’s objective view of women. According to a young YPJ fighter in a BBC report, “When they see a woman with a gun they are so afraid they begin to shake.”