Kurdish forces claim victory at Kobani

Kurdish forces at Kobani announced Jan. 26 that the town is now under their full control, with ISIS militants driven out of all neighborhoods. Joint forces of the People's Protection Units (YPG) and Peshmerga said ISIS remains in control only in a small village on the outskirts, which is expected to fall soon. Syria's Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) announced on Twitter that "the city of Kobane is fully liberated." YPG's posted to Twitter a photo of their fighters raising a flag on a liberated hilltop. The claim was also confirmed by the US military. "Anti-ISIL forces now control approximately 90 percent" of Kobani, Central Command said. The CentCom statement congratulated the town's "courageous fighters" for their "resilience and fortitude" and having denied ISIS "one of their strategic objectives."

Over 700 US air-strikes assisted in the Kurdish victory. ISIS is believed to have lost 1,300 fighters in the four-month battle for Kobani, with some 300 killed on the Kurdish side. There were only 12 civilians deaths, as the towns's populace mostly fled when the siege began. A small number of Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters who came to Kobani's aid also lost their lives. Large parts of the town have been reduced to rubble.

In Moscow, meanwhile, Syrian opposition leaders met for a new attempt at peace talks. Some 30 oppositionists, led by former UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, will negotiate among themselves for two days before Syrian government representatives join the talks. Among them are two members of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change (a leftist formation most closely linked to the civil resistance). Not invited are the Istanbul-based National Coalition, the main Western-backed opposition group. Also excluded (of course) are ISIS and Nusra Front.

Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani days earlier protested that no Kurdish leaders had been invited to a London conference bringing together representatives of 20 member countries of the anti-ISIS coalition. (DPA, Rudaw, WP, LAT, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Jan. 26; Al Jazeera America, Jan. 23)