KOBANI, Syria — Entering Kobani, I didn't know what to expect. In the thick of night, it was impossible to see very much. Apart from the occasional barking of wild dogs, there wasn't much to hear either. In the morning, I was surprised to find that most of the buildings in the vicinity were still standing. The western side of the town, where I was, has apparently been spared much of the intense fighting between the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and Islamic State (IS) forces.
Surprisingly, there are still a fair number of civilians left in the city. Walking through the streets of western Kobani, one sees children running around and playing as if nothing unusual is afoot. Many of the people who stayed have joined the YPG forces to help defend their town against IS.