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Syria: Wresting control of Kobani from IS group

France 24 / Baozi Production

After long months of fierce fighting in northern Syria, the Kurdish town of Kobani has been recaptured from Islamic State group jihadists. Our reporters witnessed the final hours of the siege of Kobani.

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When we filmed this report in mid-January, just days before the liberation of the Syrian town of Kobani, firefights were still taking place, even if most of the jihadists had already retreated.

The offensive was led by Kurdish YPG (People's Protection Units) fighters. In small groups stationed in gutted houses, they tried to flush out the final snipers from the Islamic State group present in the Syrian town. The last battles took place street by street, house by house.

Ghost town

The advance of the Kurdish forces and the recapture of Kobani have allowed several neighbourhoods to be secured. In the northwestern part of the city, the population has even regained some semblance of normal life. Of the 200,000 refugees who fled Kobani, a few thousand have already returned.

Yet after four months of intense fighting, Kobani lies in ruins. Between bombings by the Islamic State group, air strikes by the Western coalition and street battles waged by Kurdish forces, nothing has been spared. In the town centre, everything is destroyed. Kobani is now a ghost town. Its inhabitants know that reconstruction will take a long time. Drinking water is scarce, and food almost nonexistent.

The Islamic State group still controls dozens of villages in the surrounding areas. Retaking Kobani is an important and symbolic victory for the Kurds, but the war against the jihadists is itself far from over.
 

A documentary by Massoud Hamid, with Michael Sztanke and Olivier Marzin.

 

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