Kurdish forces said Friday that they were closing in on fighters of the Islamic State group in the Syrian-Turkish border town Kobani a day after the Islamic State entered the town and slaughtered more than 150 civilians, described as their biggest massacre of civilians since their incursion in Syria began.
“Daesh [The Islamic State] is carrying out a collective suicide attack, not to control Kobani or occupy it, but to kill the largest possible number of civilians,” Redur Xelil, the spokesperson of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the main Syrian Kurdish militia, told the Guardian.
Xelil added that the Islamic State was completely surrounded but the fighting was ongoing. He added that the group was in a hospital where they were keeping at least a 100 hostages.
The number of the dead civilians may rise as Xelil said that YPG did not have access to some bodies in the town due to the fighting.
In the early hours of Thursday, dozens of fighters wearing uniforms of the YPG and the Syrian Free Army managed to enter the town. Shortly after, the Islamic State detonated a vehicle packed with explosives near a border crossing with Turkey at around midnight, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
The monitoring group estimated at least five people were killed in the explosion. The border crossing is often packed with refugees fleeing Syria's civil war.
The sudden offensive comes after weeks of victories for the YPG/YPJ over the Islamic State group. Earlier this week Kurdish forces seized a military base sitting on a key supply route to the Islamic State group's de facto capital, Raqqa.
Last Monday the YPG announced it had taken control of the border town of Tal Abyad from the Islamic State group, which served as an access point for fighters joining the group and for smuggled oil into Turkey. Thus the new attack on the city and the mass killings are seen as vengeance for the group's recent defeats.
Xelil condemned the international community’s lack of support to the Kurdish resistance in Syria and called for providing the Kurds fighting the militants on the ground with weapons and equipment, saying they had not “provided a single bullet or rifle to the YPG”.