Islamic State Massacre Claims 146 Civilian Lives In Kurdish Standoff

On Friday the 26th of June, 2015, the Islamic State killed 164 civilians in its offensive on the Kurdish town of Kobane, in what was called one of the jihadists’ worst massacres in Syrian history. The attack took place mostly inside Kobane and was generally recognized as vengeance for a series of defeats inflicted on the jihadists by Kurdish militia in recent weeks. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 120 civilians were killed in a 24-hour rampage on Kobane, and another 26 were executed in a nearby village on Thursday, 25th June, 2015.
Similarly, the Britain-based Observatory found the bullet-riddled bodies of 18 people including children who were found in the streets of Kobane on Friday, 26th June, 2015. A check on the body of one child bore the impact of five bullets. Also, women were among civilians whose bodies were found in homes and on the streets. According to medical sources and Kobane residents, the civilians were executed by IS in their homes or killed by the group’s rockets or snipers.

The IS launched a surprise attack on Kobane on Thursday, 25th June, 2015, using at least two suicide car bombs and clashing with Kurdish forces. The assault which led to the death of 42 IS fighters and 10 Kurds began when three IS suicide bombers blew up vehicles at the entrance to Kobane, when they encountered resistance from the Kurdish forces. At least 5 IS fighters were killed in the clashes with residents. IS fighters briefly entered Barkh Butan, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Kobane, in the morning but withdrew after offensive air strikes as well as the arrival of Kurdish forces though 20 civilian were executed in the process.

Deceitfully, the IS entered Kobane under disguise of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and took up positions in buildings at the southeast and southwest entrances, firing at everything that moved. The real YPGs sent in reinforcements who surrounded the buildings, but the situation was difficult as the YPG did not want to hurt the women and children whom the IS militants used as shields, as reported by the AFP.

Arin Shekhmons, who was a resident of the area reported that approximately one person in every family in Kobane lost his/her life from the attack. It is important to note that Koban shares its border with Turkey. So, more than 1,000 fleeing civilians waited on the Syrian side of the frontier with Turkey on Friday, carefully watched by Turkish troops and police. It could be recalled that Kobane was the scene of one of IS’s most dramatic defeats when Kurdish militia backed by US-led air strikes ousted the jihadists in January after four months of heavy fighting. Kurdish fighters have gone on to seize Tal Abyad, another border town farther east, in a blow to the jihadists’ supply lines. The IS has fought back against Kurdish victories with an offensive against Hasakeh in the northeast, capital of the mainly Kurdish province of the same name.

According to Abdel Rahaman, IS had seized two neighborhoods in the city’s south from government forces, who jointly controlled the city. Kurdish militia launched air strikes with at least 20 jihadists and 30 pro-government fighters killed when IS captured southern parts of Hasakeh. An IS suicide bomber also killed at least 20 regime troops on Friday, 26th June, 2015 when he targeted a criminal security headquarters, the Observatory said. The attacks also led to the displacement of 60,000 people including 10,000 who fled north towards Amuda, according to UN Humanitarian Action Group. In southern Syria, a rebel alliance has been pressing an assault since Thursday on the city and provincial capital of Daraa that has killed 70 people, 40 of them rebels, said the Observatory. Al-Jazeera news channel affirmed its 19-year-old cameraman Mhohamed al-Asfer was killed while covering the Daraa clashes. The Syrian regime has already lost two provincial capitals in the four-year-old civil war: IS-held Raqa in the Euphrates valley and Idlib in the northwest, which is held by a rebel alliance including Al-Qaeda. At least 230,000 people have been killed since Syria’s conflict erupted in 2011 in Daraa.

Since June 29, 2014, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group monitoring Syria’s conflict had documented 3,027 executions by the IS. Among those executed are 1,787 civilians, including 74 children. Also, at least 223 executions were carried out in the border town this week. The observatory also documented 216 IS executions of rival rebel factions and Kurdish fighters, as well as the executions of nearly 900 regimes forces. The IS has also executed 143 of its own members it accused of crimes including spying, many of them captured as they were trying to desert the group, the Observatory said.

In order to overcome terrorism threats, it is important that political instability is addressed. This will help every citizen to work with one mind to address challenges of insecurity and achieve lasting peace. Peace is not possible in polarity but in unity.

Oyewole Oginni
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