[Ed. – The beauty of guerrilla war is that you can give up plenty of territory and still remain a viable threat.]
Islamic State forces launched a stinging, surprise attack on the Syrian border town of Kobane Thursday, slaughtering scores of families in their homes, according to the testimony of survivors and kinsmen.
The anguished mood here in Suruc among Syrian and Turkish Kurds watching the violence unfold over the border echoes similar circumstances last fall in the early days of a months-long siege by IS. The battle for Kobane became a symbol of Kurdish defiance in the face of IS battlefield gains.
The Kobane offensive on Thursday – and an IS attack on another city in northeast Syria just hours earlier – represent an unexpected reversal of fortunes for Kurdish-led forces. They had been celebrating the recent capture from IS of Tel Abyad, a strategic border town that jihadists used to funnel foreign fighters and supplies toward the capital of their “caliphate” in Raqqa. …
Thursday’s IS offensive opened with a pre-dawn suicide attack near the border gate connecting Kobane to Suruc. It followed an overnight attack on Hassakeh, a provincial capital in northeast Syria, where control is split between Kurdish factions and troops loyal to the Damascus regime.
“These attacks come as a huge surprise to us,” says Fidan Bozan, a Syrian Kurdish nurse who is living in Suruc because her home in Kobane was destroyed in previous fighting. “The war was supposed to be finished, we were all celebrating.”