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Kobani Timeline

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani (also known as Ayn al-Arab) has been under siege by the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) since mid-September. For IS, Kobani would be a huge gain, allowing the group to control an uninterrupted swath of land from its self-declared border of Raqqa in Syria to the Turkish border – a distance of more than 62 miles. As Kurdish fighters, supported by U.S. airstrikes, fight to repel IS, we will regularly update our coverage of events on the ground.

Kobani

Recent Events—Islamic State (IS) Siege on Kobani

Thursday, October 23

  • IS captured a critical hill known as Tel Shair near the besieged city of Kobani after hours of fighting with Syrian Kurdish forces and the rebel Free Syrian Army
    • IS forces can now shell Kobani from south, east, and west
  • U.S military’s fighter jets and bomber aircraft carried out four additional airstrikes near Kobani
    • The airstrikes destroyed an IS vehicle, a command-and-control center, and IS fighting positions

Wednesday, October 22

  • The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq approved deployment of 200 heavily armed peshmerga fighters  to relieve fellow Kurds in Kobani
  • President Erdoğan, referring to the U.S airdrop of weapons to Syrian Kurds: “It has become clear that this was wrong”
  • The Pentagon said that the vast majority of military supplies air dropped near Kobani had reached the Kurdish fighters they intended to help
    • However, an online video was leaked showing IS militants with a bundle of airdropped supplies
    • State Department spokeswomen Marie Harf: “There’s obviously a lot of false information, particularly propaganda on the Internet and this may fall into that category”

Monday, October 20

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced that Turkey would help Iraqi Kurdish forces to cross into Kobani to fight IS
  • Kurdistan Regional Government welcomed the U.S. airdrop of weapons to Syrian Kurds
    • American cargo jets delivered weapons and military aid to Kobani from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
    • KRG website: “The Kurdistan Region Presidency expresses its gratitude to the United States government for its air support for Kurdistan against the terrorists of ISIS”
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said to Turkey that the weapons drop was only a temporary measure in response to crisis situation
    • Kerry: “It would be irresponsible of us, as well as morally very difficult, to turn our back on a community fighting ISIL as hard as it is at this particular moment”
  • U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf expressed that Kurdish forces who received airdrops from the United States are not considered terrorist organization under U.S. law
    • Harf: “The Democratic Union Party [PYD] is a different group than Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] legally, under United States law”

Sunday, October 19

  • Turkish President Erdoğan said, “There has been talk about forming a front against ISIL by giving the PYD arms. But the PYD for us is equal to the PKK; it is a terrorist organization”
  • U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft dropped 27 bundles of weapons and medical supplies  provided by Kurdish authorities to Syrian Kurds fighting IS in Kobani
    • One overnight airstrike targeted supplies that had landed outside the drop zone in order to ensure that those supplies did not fall into the hands of IS
  • IS fired four mortars at Kurdish parts of Kobani, some of which fell inside nearby Turkey

Saturday, October 18

  • IS fired 44 mortars at Kurdish parts of Kobani on Saturday, some of which fell inside nearby Turkey
    • Abdulrahman Gok, a journalist in Kobani: “We had the most intense clashes of days, perhaps a week last night. ISIL attacked from three different sides.”
  • Two IS car bombs hit Kurdish positions on Saturday evening, leading to casualties
  • The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 70 IS fighters had been killed in past two days, according to sources at hospital in nearby town of Tel Abyab
  • U.S. warplanes pounded IS targets throughout the weekend in the bloody fight for Kobani
    • More than 135 total U.S airstrikes in Kobani against IS have pushed militants back and weakened their ranks
    • The United States focused on destroying the group’s captured oil facilities

Friday, October 17

  • The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Iraqi pilots who have joined IS are training members of a group in Syria to fly in captured fighter jets
    • This is the first time the militant group had taken to the air

Thursday, October 16

  • According to a monitoring groups, the advance of IS fighters on Kobani has stalled
    • U.S.-led coalition warplanes launched their heaviest bombardment yet on the militants
    • Kurdish sources reported that Kurdish YPG fighters have managed to retake some territory

Wednesday, October 15

  • U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL General John Allen said that there were ongoing negotiations between the United States and Turkey over granting expanded use of bases to coalition forces
    • Unnamed U.S. officials had told American press that Turkey had agreed to grant expanded access to Incirlik Air Base in the Adana province
    • However, Turkish officials were quick to deny there was such a deal
  • Turkish Prime Minister Davutoğlu expressed that Turkey will not allow its citizens to cross the border into Syria to fight against IS militants alongside Kurds in Kobani
    • Davutoğlu: “We don’t want our citizens to fight in Syria and we are trying to stop those who illegally cross the border”
  • Six airstrikes to the east of Kobani occurred overnight, with clashes continuing throughout the night

Tuesday, October 14 — Monday, October 13

  • U.S. President Barack Obama held a meeting with top military commanders from more than 20 coalition countries
    • Obama: “We are deeply concerned about the situation in and around the Syrian town of Kobani, which underscores the threat that ISIL poses in both Iraq and Syria, and coalition air strikes will continue in both these areas”
  • U.S and allied warplanes conducted 21 airstrikes near Kobani
    • The airstrikes damaged IS staging locations, buildings, compounds and vehicles
    • Initial assessments indicated that the strikes were successful, but according to the Central Command, the security situation “remains fluid”

Monday, October 13 — Sunday, October 12

  • U.S.A. launched airstrikes Sunday-Monday
    • Hit three IS fighting units, destroyed a heavy machine gun position, a staging area, and three buildings
    • Four airstrikes southwest of Kobani
    • Three airstrikes northeast of Kobani
    • One airstrike northwest of Raqqa, Syria
      • Monday
        • Kurdish fighters pushed IS’s attempted advance back
          • Stopped an attempted IS suicide bomber
        • In response to Rice’s comment, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency quoted the foreign minister “Turkey has not made any decision on whether to open its Incirlik airbase”
      • Sunday
        • US national security advisor Susan Rice: “They [Turkey] have said that their facilities inside Turkey can be used by coalition forces, American and otherwise, to engage in activities inside Iraq and Syria”

Saturday, October 11

  • Heavy clashes in east and southeast with neither side gaining ground
    • Kurdish fighters ambushed IS fighters
  • U.S. warplanes attacked five times
    • A sandstorm obscured most of the city
  • In Diyarbakir, Turkish police arrested three Western journalists covering the Kurdish protest story
  • Turkey agreed to allow the training of at least 2,000 Syrian opposition fighters on Turkish soil by American and Turkish special forces

Friday, October 10

  • IS forces now control at least 40% of Kobani
    • IS seized Kurd headquarters and the security quarter, which houses administrative buildings for the local government
  • UN envoy called on Ankara to let volunteers cross into Syria to reinforce the Kurds
    • UN official said that the capture of Kobani could result in a massacre of the remaining residents (approximately 12,000 Kurds)
  • 36 IS fighters (all foreigners) killed
  • U.S. State Department announced that Turkey would train and equip a moderate opposition in Syria to help fight IS
  • Fighting was so violent that houses shook up to 16 miles away

Thursday, October 9

  • U.S. military made numerous airstrikes around Kobani
    • Two IS training facilities were hit as were IS vehicles

Wednesday, October 8

  • Secretary of State John Kerry said that preventing the fall of Kobani was not a strategic U.S. objective
  • IS detonated a car bomb and moved north through the city, closing on the border and controlling 1/3rd of the city
  • Turkey imposed curfews on towns where protests over Kobani arose
    • Other protests continued throughout Turkey

Tuesday, October 7 — Monday, October 6

  • Warplanes believed to have been sent by the U.S.-led coalition struck IS positions near Kobani
    • Tuesday
      • Female Kurdish fighter blew herself up at an IS position east of Kobani
      • Kurdish protesters forced their way into the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels as part of a demonstration against IS’s assault on Kobani
        • EP President Martin Schulz met with protesters to hear their grievances
        • 600 protesters also gathered in Berlin
    • Tuesday night—thousands of protesters in Turkey voiced anger about the inaction of Ankara
      • Demonstrations turned violent when crowds flipped cars and used Molotov cocktails and police used teargas and water cannons
        • Roughly 14-21 protesters died
        • Protests in Turkey were accompanied by pro-Kurdish demonstrations throughout Europe
    • Overnight airstrikes (Monday-Tuesday)
      • 1 strike south of Kobani destroying 3 IS armed vehicles while damaging a 4th
      • 1 strike southeast of Kobani destroying an IS armed vehicle carrying anti-aircraft artillery
      • 2 southwest of Kobani damaging an IS tank
      • 1 south of Kobani destroying an IS unit
    • Monday
      • IS raised flags and punctured the Kurdish front lines, advancing into the town but failed to capture the center
        • IS pushed through defenses with tanks and artillery
      • IS took control of Mistenur, a key hill above the town
      • At least 14 Turkish tanks took up defensive positions on a Turkish hilltop overlooking the city because a shell from the fighting struck a Turkish house and grocery store
      • Kurdish protesters occupied the Parliament of the Netherlands for several hours

Sunday, October 5

  • More than 45 fighters on both sides killed
    • Mortar shell hit Turkish house injuring 4-5 people
      • Governor of Sanliurfa evacuated 2 border towns

Saturday, October 4

  • US military carried out 3 air strikes in Syria
    • 33 IS fighters and 23 Kurds were killed
  • Turkish officer injured due to stray shrapnel

Friday, October 3

  • IS renews its offensive, heightening the siege by attacking east, west, and south and continuously bombarding the city with mortar shells since early morning
    • Kurds repelled the attack
  • PYD leader Saleh Muslim met with officials from the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT)
    • Turkey said it would allow the passage of arms and anti-tank weapons to the YPG only if the PYD severed all ties with Assad, joined the rebels, dissolved the PYD-dominated local governments, shared power with rival Syrian Kurdish parties, and distanced itself from the PKK
      • Muslim did not have the authority to agree to this because PKK Leader and Founder Abdullah Ocalan held the power to make the final decision
  • Erdoğan said that IS and the PKK are equally dangerous: “It is wrong to view them differently; we need to deal to them jointly.”

Thursday, October 2

  • Turkish Parliament authorized motion allowing military action
    • Davutoğlu announced that Turkey will do whatever it can to prevent Kobani from falling
  • IS reached within one mile of Kobani

Wednesday, October 1

  • PKK founder and leader Abdullah Ocalan said peace talks will end if IS was allowed to continue the massacre in Kobani
  • HDP co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas vowed that HDP will continue to support government efforts to resolve the Kurdish situation

Tuesday, September 30

  • U.S.-led air strikes targeted IS fighters outside of Kobani
  • Ground fighting focused in the east
    • Kurdish militia destroyed 2 IS tanks
  • IS captured abandoned town of Siftek and began using it as a headquarters from which to launch attacks on Kobani

Monday, September 29

  • Fighting around Kobani killed 57 fighters in all, from both sides

Sunday, September 28

  • Prime Minister Davutoğlu met with Slahattin Demirtas (leader of the HDP)
    • Demirtas called Turkish government to help Kurds in Kobani

Friday, September 26

  • IS began advancing towards Kobani, reaching within one mile by October 2

Thursday, September 25

  • Turkey deployed armored vehicles near the Syrian border
  • At least 2,000 people traveled to the town of Suruc, in Turkey’s Sanliurfa province, to cross the border and fight IS
  • CHP provided 10 trucks of aid to refugees
    • KRG supplied 12 aid trucks
  • IS reinforced their numbers in response to air strikes

Wednesday, September 24

  • IS concentrated their fighters to the south and attempted to advance, but YPG repelled them overnight
    • 8 YPG fighters killed in overnight clashes
  • U.S.-led airstrikes targeted oil refineries in eastern Syria

Tuesday, September 23

  • U.S.-led alliance started air strikes on IS in Syria
  • IS advances within 10km in the south and 15km in east and west
  • UN refugee agency announced that it was making contingency plans for all 400,000 Kobani residents fleeing into Turkey

Monday, September 22

  • PPK military wing leader Murat Karayilan said that the settlement process ended with the IS assault on Kobani

Friday, September 19

  • Turkish authorities opened part of the border to allow civilians to cross over from Syria safely
  • President of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, Barzani, urged the international community to protect Kobani
  • Sunday, September 21
    • Turkish security forces clashed with Kurds trying to go to Syria to fight IS
    • PKK issued a call to arms to defend Kobani and sent 400 members
    • HDP deputies traveled to Geneva to draw the attention of the international community to Kobani

Thursday, September 18

  • The Turkish Red Crescent announced humanitarian aid collection for Kobani residents

Tuesday, September 16

  • IS captured villages outside of Kobani sending Kurds fleeing into Turkey
    • IS controls 325 villages/towns around Kobani

Kobani2

Historical Context

July 2014

  • IS attempts to take Kobani
    • Repelled by local forces backed by Kurdish fighters from Turkey

January 2014

  • Syrian Kurds declare new autonomous administration in Kobani

July 19, 2012

  • Democratic Union Party (PYD) took over Kobani
    • Declared the border strip of northern Syria to be the autonomous Kurdish region of Rojava (West Kurdistan)
    • Symbolic Importance: the first town captured by Kurdish forces as part of a campaign to control Kurdish areas
      • The creation of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) was also first announced in Kobani in 2012.

2011

  • Syrian conflict began

1900s

  • The name of the Kurdish town of Kobani was attributed by folklore to its growth around a train station built by the German Koban railway company in 1911, as part of a line linking Berlin to Baghdad.
  • Also known as Ayn al-Arab (a phrase meaning “Spring of the Arabs”), a name given to the town by the Syrian government as part of its Arabization efforts in the 1980s.

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KEYWORDS: IRAQ, ISIS, KOBANI, KURDS, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, SYRIA, TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKEY