Kurds push
back ISIS

Kurdish fighters made fresh advances against ISIS militants in the southern front of Kobane.

Kurdish female fighters. (AFP/Benjamin Hiller)

BEIRUT – Kurdish fighters engaged in the frantic defense of Kobane continued on Tuesday to push back Islamic State militants, days after local Kurdish officials east of the border town challenged ISIS with an “equal rights” law for women.


Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces have engaged in “violent clashes” with ISIS fighters in the southern front of Kobane since late Monday night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported


“YPG forces managed to advance and control new points at the front,” the NGO said, adding that the YPG fighters backed by the Iraqi Peshmerga forces “also shelled ISIS sites at the southern front, while ISIS renewed its shelling of several areas in the town.”


The Iraqi Kurdish Rudaw News Agency reported that Tuesday’s clashes erupted in the “Hajj Rashad Orchard” area of the town as well as its industrial zone.


“Kurdish forces clashed with the IS using light weapons, while the Peshmerga used heavy artillery and mortar shells to target IS locations east of Hajj Rashad orchard, the Sharia neighborhood, and the Azadi Hall,” Rudaw’s correspondent said.


The report added that ISIS respondent with mortar fire on the border crossing between Kobane and Turkey, with three shells landing on Turkish territory without causing injuries.


As clashes continued to rage, the US-led coalition pressed its aerial bombardment of ISIS fighters in the town, conducting a number of strikes on Tuesday.


Al-Jazeera’s correspondent along the Kurdish-Syrian border north of Kobane reported that jets hit three ISIS positions on the Aleppo Road in the south of the city. Meanwhile, the SOHR said that three overnight strikes had targeted ISIS, killing a number of the Islamist militants.


Amid the fresh Kurdish advances, the chief of the main Syrian-Kurdish political grouping—the Democratic Union Party (PYD)—sounded a positive note on the fighting, only weeks after fears had mounted the border town would fall to ISIS.


“[Kurds will] recapture the town in a very short time,” Saleh Muslim told AFP in an interview Tuesday.


In response to its Kobane setback, ISIS is set to mobilize its fighters for a new campaign elsewhere, the SOHR reported.


“IS leadership will mobilize its fighters in Homs and Hama in order to achieve victories in these two areas against the Syrian regime, and improve the morale of its supporters, which was weakened by the group’s failure to win control over Kobane,” a source in Raqqa told the NGO.


The source also said that the IS fighters were surprised by the fierce resistance shown by the YPG fighters in Kobane, despite more than 20 car bomb attacks.


Woman rights counter to ISIS


The Kurdish military advances in Kobane follow the Kurdish political decision in the Jazira governorate to grant equal rights to women in a move seen as a push-back to ISIS’ strictly conservative laws.


Officials in Jazira, a self-declared Kurdish administrative unit, last week passed Decree 22, which calls upon “every individual to fight authoritative and backward mentalities in society.”


“While fighting the jihadists, the Kurds also want to send a message to the international community, to say that they want to espouse a culture of democracy and civil rights,” SOHR director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP in an interview Sunday.


The decree declares “equality between men and women in both the public and private spheres,” and sets out a number of rights for women, including equal inheritance, paid maternity leaves, protection from honor killings and child marriage, as well as political participation.


The PYD operates three autonomous “governorates” in northern Syria; Jazira, Afrin and Kobane.

Kurdish fighters advanced against ISIS in Kobane days after local Kurdish officials east of the border town challenged ISIS with an “equal rights” law for women. (AFP/Benjamin Hiller)

YPG forces managed to advance and control new points at the front.