Video emerges of masked fighter claiming ISIL withdrawal from Kobani was largely due to US-led air strikes.
The Islamic State group has admitted defeat in the Syrian border town of Kobani, but says it will return to “hit them again.”
In a video released by the ISIL-affiliated Aamaq News Agency, a masked militant says US-led airstrikes drove the group to withdraw from the town, referred to as Ayn al-Islam.
“The reason behind our withdrawal is that we lost our positions. We were occupying more than 70 percent of Ayn al-Islam, but once the jet fighters started to bombard, the entire area was destroyed. Their jet fighters came and destroyed the area with their missiles,” said the unnamed fighter.
However, the group will not give in, he continued:
“We endured and God willing, we will endure. And God willing we will fight them again… We will hit them again and we will disperse them. By God their planes do not leave the skies. They shell night and day. They shell everything. But God willing we will fight them again and we will hit them with twice what they have hit us with.”
The clip has since been taken down from the website on which it was originally posted.
Following the Friday evening (January 30) release of the video, the US army made a statement announcing its troops had helped Kurdish ground forces to take back the town on Tuesday (January 27).
“Kurdish ground forces, supported by our air component , were successful in retaking the town of Kobani,” US Lieutenant-General James Terry said.
ISIL launched a heavy assault on predominantly-Kurdish Kobani in mid-September 2014, using artillery seized in Iraq and forcing tens of thousands of locals to flee.
The battle for Kobani has been a costly one. According to the US military, Kurdish forces are continuing to push the jihadi group further away from the town.
“Kurdish forces continue to expand their positions to surrounding areas outside of Kobani by seizing key terrain and access routes,” a US military statement announced.
Since August, more than 700 US-led air strikes have reportedly destroyed more than 280 ISIL fighting positions in the area. In addition, the US says its forces, with the help of allies, have razed nearly 100 buildings, more than 60 technical vehicles and other equipment.