Kurdish recapture of Syria’s Kobane reported
Activists say ISIL fighters expelled from Kurdish town, a day after they killed hundreds in apparent act of vengeance.
Doha, Qatar – Kurdish forces have recaptured Syria’s Kobane from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, activists and a monitoring group say.
Kurdish forces managed to force ISIL out of the Kurdish town following days of deadly clashes, activists and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday.
“Kurdish forces recaptured Kobane and are battling any ISIL fighters left inside the town. Mashta Nour hospital has been recaptured. The situation here is very critical as many families are in need of aid, especially water,” an activist told Al Jazeera over phone from Kobane.
“ISIL killed more than 300 civilians in Kobane in the past 24 hours. They [ISIL] were disguised as Kurdish forces and had women disguised with them too.”
The activist, who witnessed killings from his rooftop, said that ISIL fighters “knocked on doors claiming they were here to help, they spoke Kurdish, then barged into homes and shot everyone in front of them”.
“Women and children are on the streets, there are dead bodies everywhere. All we can hear are screams and cries for help,” he said.
“I counted 33 bodies as my wife and I escaped west of town. They shot and killed my mother-in-law in front of us; then when my uncle ran to pick her up from the road, they shot and killed him too.
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“We were all clearing the streets of dead bodies. At one point we had to bury three bodies at a time because there was no place to bury all the people.”
Activists told Al Jazeera that while many of those injured were transported to Turkey, still many others bled to death on the streets of Kobane.
For their part, Turkish officials said more than 150 people were being treated in hospitals after crossing the border.
On Friday, an unknown number of ISIL fighters took up position at least four positions in Kobane: Mashta Nour hospital, a secondary school and two buildings near Rashad mosque.
Kurdish officials said the the fighters were also holding at least 50 civilian hostages, using them as human shields.
The killing spree that started in the town, known as Ayn al-Arab in Arabic, on Thursday was widely seen as revenge for a series of defeats inflicted on ISIL by Kurdish forces in recent weeks.
In January ISIL was forced to leave after months of fighting with the Kurds supported by US-led coalition air strikes.
Early on Thursday, dozens of ISIL fighters wearing uniforms of the Kurdish YPG and the Syrian Free Army managed to enter the town, reports said.
The fighters used suicide car bombers before they began randomly shooting at people.
“It was around 4am when we heard loud gunshots and explosions, when we ran outside we saw ISIL fighters disguised as Kurdish Forces yelling in Kurdish, ‘We are with you, we are from your side’ then shooting randomly at people,” the Kobane-based activist told Al Jazeera.
“Dying at this point would be much easier than living in all this, hearing all those screams or seeing those injured bleeding to death.”
In a recent audio recording, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, ISIL’s spokesman, said: “We may lose some battles but we won’t be defeated.”
The group has suffered a string of defeats at the hands of the Kurds in northeastern Syria – the most recent in Tal Abyad, a strategic border town that ISIL used as a trade and smuggling route for foreign fighters and supplies.