chapter  4
15 Pages

The Siege of Kobani

Interviewing ISIS
WithJonathan Spyer

Kobani is a city nestled close to the frontier. In Tel Abyad, to the east of Kobani city, the sides camped in abandoned villages. Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had forced the villagers to leave when the fighting began. The Kurds had been divided up between four repressive and authoritarian states – Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. But the Kurds of Syria were perhaps uniquely sealed off, confined to their remote northern corners of the country. Their language, traditions and most basic rights had been trampled by the Assad regime, far from any media interest. But in Kobani and the other enclaves, finally, the very modest project of simply securing protection for the area's civilian inhabitants and their language and culture, in the face of assaults from some of the most vicious military organizations anywhere, was being achieved. Modern cities, even modest ones like Gaziantep, become things of wonder after a few days in a place like besieged Kobani.