An explosion in Kobane, after an ISIS suicide bomber blew up a truck near a YPG hideout.
An explosion in Kobane, after an ISIS suicide bomber blew up a truck near a YPG hideout.Reuters

Despite the odds, the Kurdish fighters have been holding back the ISIS militants from taking over the city of Kobane.

Kurdish fighters, including scores of young women, have laid down their lives to protect the city from the Islamic State fighters.

For the US-led coalition forces, as noted by the US Secretary of State John Kerry, the hillside town just over the border with Turkey was not a "strategic" priority. However, for the Islamic State, Kobane is a town that would prove crucial for its plan of establishing the caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Here are seven reasons why the ISIS militants would do anything to take over Kobane:

  • First and the most important reason why ISIS desperately wants to take over Kobane is because of its geographical location. Capturing Kobane would give the Islamic State jihadists total control of nearly half of the over 800-km-long border between Turkey and Syria, which is a crucial route used by all foreign fighters joining the ISIS.
  • Capturing Kobane also will give ISIS a psychological advantage over the defiant Kurdish fighters. It is important to know that the Syrian town of Kobane, near the border with Turkey, was the first city from which Kurdish troops expelled Syrian government forces and established an autonomous democratic rule in July 2012.
  • For Islamic State, Kobane represents everything evil and by taking over the Kurdish town, it can strongly assert its position. For years, this small Kurdish town has battled the Islamic ideologies to bring in democracy. Several Kurdish leaders such as Abdullah Ocalan and top PKK leader Murat Karayilan hail from Kobane.
  • Kobane is the base for the Syrian Kurdish militia, YPG, which is allied to Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Marxist-movement deemed terrorists by both the US government and Turkey. The YPG, has time and again fought effectively against ISIS and has proved its worth especially in Erbil. But taking over Kobane, the Islamic State militants will have a chance to finish off YPG.
  • The Kurdish militia till now have been the only fighters in Syria, who were able to break the march of ISIS. They broke the illusion of 'invincibility' surrounding ISIS by repelling the attack in Erbil. Similarly, the Kurdish militia, despite being out-gunned, has proved that taking Kobane won't be an easy task for ISIS.
  • The ISIS strategists understand that if they fail to take Kobane now, the YPG would eventually grow strong and would pose a threat in ISIS controlled areas such as Tel Abyad.
  • Similarly for Islamic State, according to Middle East expert, Carl Drott, the capture of (Tel Abyad) would enable the isolated Kobani enclave to be connected with the much larger Jazira area that also borders the Kurdistan Region in Iraq (a successful attack would most likely come from this side). For IS, on the other hand, getting expelled from this area would mean losing all access to Turkey east of Jarabulus.

As per recent reports from Kobane, as of Wednesday night ISIS has once again renewed its attack on the city. Reports indicate that at least over 2,000 civilians are still in the city, while over 1,60,000 refugees have taken shelter in Turkey.