Journalist Barzan Iso, who a couple of days ago was gleefully telling me about a recent success of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), the militia of the Kurdish-controlled the Rojava region of West Kurdistan, was distraught when I called him the next day. He was at the funeral of his cousin. He told me on the night of July 8 that the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) had begun a major attack against Kobani, also known as Ain al-Arab, and his cousin was among 10 Kurds who were killed.
The Islamic State, after moving heavy weapons it took from the Iraqi army to Syria’s Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa towns, has been mounting three-pronged attacks since July 2 against Kobani, one of the three cantons of Rojava. IS had been expected to move toward Baghdad, backed by Sunni tribes, Baathists and Salafist Islamic factions, but diverted its operations to Syria. IS easily captured Mayadeen, Muhassen and Al Omar oil basin at Deir ez-Zor and its next target was predicted to be the Kurdish Jazeera canton. But IS struck at Rojava’s most symbolic target, Kobani.