Vice News: “Welcome to Stalingrad. Welcome to Kobane,” said a Kurdish militant, starting his car. A mad dash across the closed Turkish border had just brought us into the majority Kurdish Syrian town, then nearing its 100th day of fighting off a brutal siege by the Islamic State. The jihadists have blitzed it since mid-September from the south, west, and east after taking over all the nearby towns, sending wave after wave of fighters for more than three months.
The Kurdish militia defending the city, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), have made progress in pushing back the Islamic State back in recent weeks, but it was still necessary for the YPG fighter driving to keep the headlights off so as not to draw attention to the vehicle. All across the city, hardened YPG fighters are still on guard, defending against new Islamic State attacks daily and pushing forward, block by block and house by house.
When VICE News arrived in late December, the YPG had effectively pushed the Islamic State outside the city center. One YPG commander said they controlled 75 percent of the city, but that appeared an over-estimation, and a sizeable portion is changing hands regularly. Fierce street battles have mostly given way to mortar and rocket attacks, as well as constant sniper fights.