The US-led coalition launched its first air-strikes targeting ISIS positions on the outskirts of the besieged Kurdish town of Kobani on Sept. 27, according to local officials. The strike follows a week-long ISIS offensive that has driven over 140,000 Syrian Kurds across the Turkish border. Ahmed Sulaiman, an official of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), told Kurdish news agency Rudaw that the mission targeted ISIS forces based at several villages east of Kobani, including Jim-Hiran, Ali-Shar, Mirde Smill and Sheran. The PKK-aligned People's Protection Units (YPG) are defending the town, and have issued a statement vowing to "make Kobani the graveyard of ISIS fighters." (Rudaw, Sept. 27)
One of the YPG commanders at Kobani, Meryem Kobanê, said ISIS forces are using heavy weaponry seized from the Iraqi military in Mosul. She pledged: "We have made a clear decision to resist to the last fighter. We will not allow them into the town, and have taking effective measures. But in the eventuality that they do get into the town, we will turn it into an inferno for them." (PUKMedia, Sept. 27)
Following gains against ISIS by Peshmerga forces backed by US air power in northern Iraq, hundreds of Christian families who had fled a village north of Mosul have returned home, although the UN says they are still in need of urgent help. ISIS militants had not reached Alqoush, home to one of the largest Christian communities in the area, but the village’s 6,000 inhabitants fled on hearing that the jihadists had routed Kurdish militias guarding nearby areas.
ISIS remains in control of a string of Christian villages in the plateau of Nineveh governorate near Mosul—most prominently, Tel Kaif, Baqoup, Batnaya and Tel Iskoph. The UN says more than 1.8 million Iraqis have been displaced since ISIS seized the north of the country in June. (Azzaman, Sept. 26)