ISIS Loses Ground to Kurds, US Airstrikes

Islamic State pushed out of Kobane by Kurdish fighters as previously 'ineffective' US strikes finally hit the mark.

Ari Soffer,

Smoke rises from the site of a US airstrike a
Smoke rises from the site of a US airstrike a

US airstrikes appear to have halted an advance by the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group on the embattled Kurdish city of Kobane, northern Syria.

Despite fierce resistance - including bloody street-by-street battles - the city's lightly-armed Kurdish defenders were outgunned by ISIS fighters who as of Wednesday were said to have captured as much as a third of Kobane. US airstrikes were criticized for being largely ineffective until now, with Kurdish commanders claiming they were largely hitting peripheral targets and even empty buildings.

But according to reports on Thursday a combination of more effective airstrikes and dogged resistance by the Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) militia have succeeded in pushing ISIS out of the town - marking the first time during the recent assault in which the jihadis have lost ground.

Additionally, local reports cited by the BBC claimed that a unit of Free Syrian Army rebels attacked ISIS lines from behind, inflicting serious losses to the Islamists and forcing them to pull back from Kobane to defend against the FSA offensive. ISIS is fighting both the Assad regime and other Syrian rebel groups - all of whom it considers as infidels.

Watch - ISIS forces engage Kurds in bloody urban warfare:

For its part, Turkey has continued to call for "more" to be done to defend Kobane - even as Kurds accuse the Turkish government of indirectly supporting the jihadis as a way of crushing Kurdish hopes for independence in the region. Turkey itself has ruled out any ground offensive to rescue the city, and has deployed significant forces to its border with Syria to prevent Kurds from crossing over to help defend Kobane, sparking angry riots in Kurdish cities throughout Turkey.

The lack of action by Turkey is reportedly a source of "deep frustration" in Washington as well, according to media reports. Secretary of State John Kerry has reportedly been asking Turkish government officials why no action is being taken despite parliamentary approval for military intervention.

The UN says that if Kobani falls, a "bloodbath" will ensue, and Kurdish leaders have warned of an impending "genocide".