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The Influence Of An Airstrike-Only Policy On Kobani, ISIS

Kurds defending the embattled city of Kobani are reportedly making gains against ISIS, but what does that mean for the U.S.-led coalition?
Posted at 11:36 AM, Oct 17, 2014

The Syrian-Turkish border town of Kobani has been under an ISIS siege for more than a month now, but it seems the jihadist group is pulling out of the city.

Speaking to Time, a Kurdish government official in the city said about 65 to 70 percent of Kobani was under the control of the People's Protection Units, or YPG. (Video via YouTube / Serhıldan u Tolhıldan)

Aside from the Kurds' refusal to abandon their city, the progress is also largely credited to U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in the region, with more than 50 being performed just this week. 

But the ramping up of airstrikes in the region seemingly contradicts U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's statements in Cairo Sunday.

SECRETARY KERRY VIA AL JAZEERA: "Kobani does not define the strategy of the coalition with respect to Daesh. Kobani is one community and it's a tragedy what's happening there."

U.S. Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters on Thursday the strategy remains the same. 

REAR ADM JOHN KIRBY VIA U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE"There's been no strategic shift here, as far as I know, at least from the military perspective, about Kobani or any other town."

While there may not be a strategic reason to keep Kobani free from ISIS control, many note other possible reasons — such as seeing it as a testament to the effectiveness of the coalition's airstrike-only strategy. (Video via YouTube / haluk temel)

Others point out the fall of Kobani would be a symbolic victory for ISIS. Not only would the city's capture expand the jihadist group's control over the Syrian-Turkish border, but it would also show that it can weather coalition airstrikes. (Video via YouTube / أبو مصعب الغزي)

And comparing Kobani to a Kurdish version of the Alamo, a writer at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote earlier this month that the city is crucial to the delicate state of Kurdish politics in the region. 

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 650 people have died during the siege of Kobani, though the observatory guesses the number could be twice as high. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and the U.S. Department of State and music from Chris Zabriskie / CC BY 3.0.