Syria’s Kurds celebrate after winning Kobane, but self-rule far off

Reuters reports: Kurds are celebrating after flushing Islamic State militants out of the town of Kobani, but victory is not yet certain in their campaign to cement hard-won autonomy in northern Syria.

Hundreds of U.S.-led coalition air strikes have devastated the town, which is adrift in an Islamic State-controlled sea. Objections to autonomy from neighboring Turkey and the United States could also make it hard for them to sustain their gains.

The retaking by People’s Protection Units (YPG) last week of predominantly Kurdish Kobani after a four-month siege by Islamic State was a major defeat for the Sunni fundamentalist group that controls a 20,000-square mile arc of Syria and Iraq.

For the Kurds, it is a bittersweet victory, as almost 200,000 people, almost the entire population of Kobani province, are still sheltering in Turkey.

But many were still exuberant. Dozens of men waiting at the Turkish crossing to return to Kobani late last week shouted and danced for joy, unfazed by the wrecked city looming behind them.

Most of Kobani is destroyed, with unexploded shells and twisted hunks of cars strewn along the streets. [Continue reading…]

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