After the Syrian town of Kobane was taken by Kurdish fighters in their battle with ISIS on Monday, a U.S. State Department official confirmed that a large percentage of the 1196 confirmed ISIS dead were foreign fighters. The official added that ISIS had many of its top foreign soldiers to Kobane, but the last six weeks of fighting catalyzed a division in the ranks, so severe that ISIS executed some of the foreign fighters when they would not fight in Kobane.
The official said that many of the foreign fighters came from Australia, Belgium, Canada and Chechnya, stating that the percentage of foreign fighters was “hugely, hugely significant.” He said that the defeat of ISIS in Kobane had punctured the feeling of invulnerability for some fighters, making youths who thought of joining ISIS as an adventure reconsider the idea.
Although the official stated that it was too soon to declare “mission accomplished,” as the ISIS fighters were “adaptive and resilient,” he acknowledged, “ISIL is now, whether on order or whether they are breaking ranks, is beginning to withdraw from the town … The entire notion of this organization which is on the march, inevitable expansion, (its) overall momentum has been halted at Kobane.”
He concluded that ISIS “wanted to raise the largest flag they ever made over Kobane … Kobane shows that you’re not going to be part of something great… so the whole narrative that ISIL is trying to put out, Kobane really puts a dent in it.”
The battle over Kobane took 131 days; Anwar Muslim, the president of the self-declared Syrian Kurdish canton of Kobane, said that the YPG and Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters had control of the town, but in the eastern periphery of the town there was “final clean-up” where ISIS leaders might be hiding.
Kobane was an important target for ISIS because capturing it would have given the terrorist group an uninterrupted stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border.