This is the third installment of my ongoing coverage of the Battle of Kobani. The current animation covers the period of December 10-16.
(Ensure you hit F5 or View Show)
Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) versus Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) & allies: ISIS’ ruthless blitzkrieg has seized much of Iraq and Syria but has slowed in the face of growing resistance and Coalition airstrikes. ISIS looks to continue the advance by making the Kurdish city of Kobani its next objective. With unfriendly Turkey to its rear and ISIS to its front and flanks, will the YPG hold out? Also known as the Siege/Battle of Kobane, Kobanê, Kobanî.
Kurdish leaders and media have often compared their struggle at Kobani to that of the Russians at Stalingrad. While compared to Stalingrad’s size and scale Kobani is merely a skirmish, there are some important historical similarities that are relevant here. For one, the fighting and tactics are just as fierce and grinding on both sides. Just as German forces advanced on Stalingrad confident of a quick victory after years of lightning victories, ISIS advanced on Kobani with the same confidence, already viewing the city’s occupation as a precondition to other goals. Just as the Russians proclaimed there was no land beyond the Volga River, the YPG has its back to the unfriendly Turkish border and has no place to retreat to. Just as the Germans always seemed on the verge of breaking through Russian lines and capturing the embarkation points along the Volga which supplied them, ISIS still appears to be dangerously close to capturing the vital border crossing with a single successful offensive. However, there is one key difference which distinguishes this from its historical precedent. German forces were fighting on multiple fronts in Russia and elsewhere just as ISIS fights seemingly everyone on every front in Syria and Iraq, but the YPG is not Russia in terms of relative strength. Russian forces stalled the German advance and then executed a double envelopment with its strategic reserves, surrounding and destroying an entire German army. The YPG simply does not have this option for a grand maneuver, and must instead find another way to defeat the still-powerful ISIS forces. ISIS meanwhile must find a way to somehow concentrate sufficient force to defeat the YPG in Kobani while engaged on so many other fronts.
If you are interested in learning more about the Syrian Civil War, check out these great links:
Institute for the Study of War – non-profit public policy research organization which covers both current conflicts in Syria and Iraq. This organization’s weekly updates are a great overview.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – non-profit human rights organization with particularly objective and credible coverage of Syrian Civil War.
Peter Clifford – human rights-oriented blog with lots of concise coverage of Syria and Iraq.
Syria Direct – non-profit journalist organization which offers reliable, credible coverage of Syrian Civil War.
Agothocle de Syracuse – produces concise maps of battles and campaigns in Syria and Iraq.
Chuck P. Farrer – Twitter account with some pretty good maps of the Battle of Kobani, as well as more partisan coverage of events in the Middle East and North Africa.
MalcomXtreme – great aggregate of incidents and related media with daily updates for events in Syria.
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The map of Syria on the second slide is courtesy of the Free Software Foundation and can be found here.
– Jonathan Webb
If you enjoyed the Battle of Kobani 2014 battle animation, you may also enjoy these other battle animations:
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