The Associated Press reports: The U.S. isn’t sure why IS is fighting so hard for control of Kobani, a city with few resources and far removed from any capital. But like the U.S. with Kobani, a loss to a ragtag group of Kurdish fighters would be a propaganda loss for IS.
Much of the daily fighting in Kobani is caught on camera, where TV crews and photographers on the Turkish side of the border have captivated the world’s attention with searing pictures of refugees, black plumes of smoke from explosions, and the sounds of firefights on the city’s streets. In video after video, refugees just across the border can be seen and heard cheering as U.S. airstrikes pound the extremists.
Last week, in pictures and Tweets, the militants’ supporters declared Kobani as theirs, and changed the city’s name to Ayn al-Islam, or Spring of Islam. The online jeering has quieted considerably after the airstrikes of the last several days.
The Islamic State relies on its global online propaganda machine, run largely by supporters far from the battle, to entice fighters, funding and other aid to the front. If the militants’ victories begin to ebb in such a public forum, U.S. officials believe, so too will their lines of support. That alone makes the battle for Kobani a must-win fight for the U.S. strategy.
And that is not lost on Washington. “What makes Kobani significant is the fact that ISIL wants it,” Kirby said. [Continue reading…]