Islamic State admits its forces withdrew from Kobane

The Islamic State has officially acknowledged that its forces have withdrawn from the Kurdish town of Kobane in northern Syria. The al Qaeda offshoot admitted its retreat in a short video that was released by ‘Amaq News Agency,’ an official propaganda outlet.

The video, which is comprised of statements from two unidentified jihadists who fought in Kobane, was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. Both fighters credited the air campaign by the US-led Coalition with forcing their retreat.

The first fighter said that “it was fated for us to retreat from Ayn al-Islam [Ayn al Arab, or Kobane] bit by bit, because of the bombardment and because some of the brothers were killed.”

The second fighter said that “the reason behind our retreat is that we did not find points in which to remain garrisoned. We stayed in garrisoned positions inside more than 70% of Ayn al-Islam, but the aircraft did not leave any buildings and destroyed everything.”

“They flattened the land with their rockets, so we were forced to retreat,” he continued. Later, he stated that the aircraft “bombarded day and night.”

The second jihadist warned that the Islamic State would “return” to Kobane, presumably once Coalition aircraft turn their attention elsewhere.

“This is the style of hit and run since the days of the Messenger … We will return once again and we will disperse them [the Kurds],” the second fighter said.

The Islamic State’s claim that much of Kobane was difficult for the group to occupy because it was leveled is somewhat plausible. According to Al Jazeera, Kurds returning to Kobani have found “at least half of the town destroyed.”

The jihadist in the video rightly notes that a considerable number of airstrikes were launched against the Islamic State in and around Kobane. The US-led Coalition has executed 606 airstrikes on the jihadist group in the area between Sept. 27, 2014 and Jan. 20, 2015, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal and Military Edge. That represents more than 71 percent of the total number of Coalition airstrikes in Syria during that timeframe. [See LWJ report, Islamic State is forced from Kobane.]

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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10 Comments

  • mike merlo says:

    so a 4 month battle which ‘Raw Data’ suggest’s 1300 ISIS/ISIL were killed with ‘Data’ on wounded yet to be presented coupled with a # of 606 sorties(?) equates to 2.145 ISIS/ISIL personnel killed per sortie, not to mention material & equipment lost. I’m not sure what ‘it’ is but I’m guessing there’s a ‘moral’ to this story ‘somewhere,’ then again maybe there isn’t

  • James says:

    @Mike Merlo:

    Seriously Mike, how in the heck are they going to know how many were ‘killed or wounded’ in coalition airstrikes if you are trying to estimate those numbers from thousands of feet in the air?

    But I guess it’s people like yourself and others in the media mob (and their well-connected political cronies) that get away with demanding from the military to divulge numbers that they know are just ballpark figures at best so that now you and them can look so ‘right’ by claiming how wrong they were.

    If it were up to me I’d have the military tell people like yourself that: “We have NO IDEA how many IS were killed or wounded in these airstrikes.”

    God have mercy on US all if people like yourself get away with calling the shots.

    My God, even Tom’s got it right about the need to get rid of Assad.

  • Lint says:

    Awesome. We helped one terrorist group win a battle against another terrorist group within a nation that is a sponsors other terrorists. This will end poorly for us yet again. When will we learn??

  • Daniel Lopez says:

    @MIKE MERLO

    The moral of the story is that the US has ungodly amounts of money and power to throw at these sorts of things. Someone may um and ah about how cost effective such a campaign has been, but one simple fact remains- the US facilitated the defeat of IS in Kobane, just as they have defeated them at Mosul Dam, Amerli, Sinjar, and elsewhere.

    To extract more form this than (expensive) victories, you can also say the moral of the story is that they CAN use air power with little or no boots on the ground to achieve certain objectives. If the American public would rather throw away their gold instead of their soldiers- that’s an option they now know works to some extent in some circumstances.

  • mike merlo says:

    @James

    Thank you for your input. The ‘culled’ Data is from the same ‘sources’ that TLWJ regularly uses.

    I’m a private citizen who is neither a supplicant nor a sycophant of any “Media Mob.” I do my own research & have my own sources.

    Nobody tells what to do, when to do it, how to do it, where to do it, etc., including the US Military & any other “Fly-By-Night” collection of Fumblelina’s someone of your ilk would ‘see’ fit to indulge your obviously misguided sense of propriety.

    God has nothing to do with any of whats taking place, what has taken place & what will take place. And yes it is most unfortunate that someone of my persuasion is not “calling the shot(s).” If so this whole GWOT ‘thing’ would have been put ‘to rest’ a few years ago.

    Who is Tom? The time to dispose of Assad has long since passed. Its time to stroll through Dante’s Inferno & make a deal with him.

  • mike merlo says:

    @D Lopez

    With more information becoming available by the day regarding ‘The Siege of Kobane’ the “Moral of the Story” is what I ‘posted’ to an earlier article “more than anything what the Kobane Battle reveals is just how little is known about ISIS/ISIL.

    The “defeats” you ‘speak’ of haven’t yet translated into anything tangible or sustainable. While I certainly prefer ISIS/ISIL not to have control nor the capacity to harass the ‘communities’ you mentioned I haven’t ‘seen’ anything that leads me to believe that the ‘communities’ in question could protect themselves from a concerted attack.

  • Arjuna says:

    As much as it pains me to admit it, I am with Mike Merlo on this.
    The US Military, in which I proudly served, could not win a guerilla war in 2015 if it was served up to it in irons in an orange jumpsuit. We are good at buying and handing out weapons, but the strategy and will to win small wars is sorely lacking.
    Assad is very much the lesser of the evils in Syria now, The Devil We Know.
    We need to join forces (yes, US ground forces) with him and wipe out the Islamic State throughout Syria and Iraq…. now.

  • James says:

    @Mike

    “Who is Tom? The time to dispose of Assad has long since passed. Its time to stroll through Dante’s Inferno & make a deal with him.”

    Mike, with all due respects for your assertions, are you suggesting that we get on the side of Assad in this thing? Don’t you see Mike that it’s because of Assad the situation over there has deteriorated to what it is now? He is literally the ‘poster child’ for the jihadist recruiters. Even Putin’s rejects (the Chechnyens) were lured there to fight Assad (at least initially) not US.

    I predicted long ago on these messageboards (and elsewhere) that Assad is the kind of person that will do anything to stay in power; even if it means putting his own people, nation and especially his military through such misery as we see that is happening now. Assad is the kind of person that says to himself “If I go down, I’m dragging everybody else I can down right along with me!”

    It’s hard for me to fathom why such people as yourself and others would even suggest that we get on the side of Assad in this thing. You see Mike, Assad IS the problem. Assad is a curse. Assad is a jinx. It’s because of people like Assad for AQ’s even existence.

    Also, it’s hard for me to fathom why anyone would suggest we get on the side of someone like Assad who so casually aligns himself with both Putin AND the mullah regime (in Tehran); (which is just an ‘alliance of convenience’ if there ever was one).

    This whole thing in Syria started as a revolution; it only later regressed into a civil war. The only thing I can think of that it can compare to from a historical perspective would be the French Revolution but only much worse.

    All we’ve done by not acting more assertively in the removal of Assad from power is to but embolden Putin AND the mullah regime (in Tehran). We now see the ill-effects of this ill-conceived policy of benign appeasement in Ukraine and we may be seeing it shortly in Yemen.

    Even during the worst time of OIF it was Assad that was turning a blind eye to his territoy being used as the primary entry point and staging ground for AQ militants into Iraq. Why would he do so? Answer: To seemingly justify to people like yourself and others keeping himself in power by creating (or helping to bring about) a maelstorm in the region.

    If Assad really cared about his own people and military (and not just his own selfish interests and grip on power) he would have left power long ago, like the leaders of Yemen and Tunisia did. Had Assad left power, or had we just left a minimal force structure in place in Iraq AND assisted the Syrian resistance while they were still moderate this whole nightmare we see now developing over there would have never happened. You see Mike, history bears witness that the longer these kinds of conflicts go on the worse the prognosis will usually become.

    I say that if it takes an Operation Valkyrie type strategy to get rid of Assad, then so be it.

  • sundoesntrise says:

    I actually agree with both James and Mike. I’m sick to death of people invoking God in our worldly political affairs as a weapon; I’m also tired of people insisting that one spoiled man who inherited the throne from his father is absolutely necessary to stabilizing the region. The argument that ‘We need Assad because he provides stability’ almost never held any ground, if you take a look at Syria today. Even when there was no war, his state apparatus was constantly torturing and assassinating people, we just didn’t know about it back then, or we didn’t bother to care.

  • mike merlo says:

    @James

    I don’t need you or anybody else to lecture me on Assad of Syria. I’m well aware of the current conditions in Syria and the ‘events’ that have gotten Syria to where it presently is & what its Short Term & Medium Term Prospects are to be.

    With so many ‘Moving Parts of Consequence’ now in play removing Assad, by Force or Otherwise, at this juncture would only serve to make the present situation worse & that much more unpredictable. Assad is no longer the Principal Power Broker in Syria & hasn’t been for the last 2 1/2 to 3 years. The ‘window of opportunity’ to remove Assad & not have Syria deteriorate to its present conditions also came & went around 3 years ago.

    By default the USA & its Coalition of ‘Diddlers’ have already ‘gotten in bed’ with Assad. Just because there has been no formal or public ‘Declaration’ & or Statement ‘saying’ as much realities on the ground indicate otherwise.

    The US has 4 maybe 6 options: 1) continue on its present course & have the situation ‘slob’ along with no determinable outcome in the foreseeable future; 2) marshal their Coalition of ‘Diddlers’ to put a Ground Force together mounting assaults (raids?), possibly an incursion of consequence, from Jordan; 3) cut a deal with Assad, hence by default with Russia & Iran, & coordinate Strategy, Tactics & Resources targeting ISIS/ISIL, al Nusra & their allies; 4) expand their present operations to include targeting Assad & his forces which by default would then include the targeting of Iran, their proxy Hezbollah & maybe Russia; 5) broach the subject of a ‘sit-down’ with the possible caveat of a temporary cessation of hostilities; 6) The X Factor

    By the way who is “Tom?”

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis