Turkey has repeatedly warned it will not tolerate Kurdish self-rule on its Syrian frontier. Washington has also opposed Kurdish autonomy, for fear it would divide the Syrian opposition and because of the Yip’s links with the PKK
World Bulletin / News Desk
Kurds are celebrating after flushing ISIL militants out of the town of Kobani, but victory is not yet certain in their campaign to cement hard-won autonomy in northern Syria.
Hundreds of U.S.-led coalition air strikes have devastated the town, which is adrift in an ISIL-controlled sea. Objections to autonomy from neighbouring Turkey and the United States could also make it hard for them to sustain their gains.
The retaking by People’s Protection Units (TPG) last week of predominantly Kurdish Koran Province after a four-month siege by ISIL was a major defeat for the group that controls a 20,000-square mile arc of Syria and Iraq.
For the Kurd, it is a bittersweet victory, as some 200,000 people, almost the entire population of Koran province, are still sheltering in Turkey.
But many were exuberant. Dozens of men waiting at the Turkish crossing to return to Koran late last week shouted and danced for joy, unframed by the wrecked city looming behind them.
Most of Koran is destroyed, with unexplored shells and twisted hunks of cars strewn along the streets.
A few solitary TPG fighters in baggy fatigues prowl the town as shelling and gunfire echo in the distance. Fighting has now moved to the dusty outskirts, for the 400 or so villages that ISIL, or ISIS, steamroller through in September.
“This victory is for the Syrian people, but it is a first step,” said Indris Nissan, a senior official in Koran . “We have to continue until we destroy ISIS. If they remain in Syria, Iraq or other places in the world, they will attack us again.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war from Britain, said ISIL persists in rural areas more than 10 km (six miles) from town.
“ISIL has relocated some fighters from the countryside north of Aleppo to villages around Koran,” said the Observatory’s Ramie Abdul rah man, who also noted Syrian government offensives across Syria as the war heads into is fifth year.
The civil war, which began as a popular uprising against President Bashaw al-As sad in March 2011, has killed 200,000 people and turned 3 million more into refugees.
The battle for Koran weakened ISIL, its best fighters perishing and much of its heavy weaponry depleted, Anwar Muslim, the top official in the town told Reuters at Freedom Square, where a statue of an eagle is surrounded by flattened tower blocks and cratered streets.
“They will attack again … The coalition has supported us with weapons and air strikes. We are hopeful they will continue so we can eradicate ISIS,” Muslim said, adding that Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga and a few Free Syrian Army brigades remain in Koran.
The FSA cooperation marks a turnaround after earlier clashes between them and the Kurd. Last month, Syrian government forces also battled Kurd, breaking a tacit agreement between …read more