The Islamic State has officially acknowledged that its forces have withdrawn from the Kurdish town of Kobane in northern Syria.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.]