Gaziantep and Suruc, Turkey – A dozen men huddle around a campfire in the Turkish village of Ma’sariya, 700 meters north of the Syrian border. They are a fraction of more than 120,000 Kurds who have fled an attack by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Kobani, the strategic town just across the border in Syria.
It’s too cloudy to see the US jets flying above, but they make plenty of noise. Applause breaks out at the sound of explosions from the bombs they drop, and the occasional fires they trigger in Kobani. The sound of gunfire that punctuates the damp night prompts worried frowns around the campfire: Many here are fighters with the People’s Protection Units – YPG, by its Kurdish acronym – on leave for a few days from the battle across the frontier.
More than a thousand people have been killed in the months-long battle to defend the town, including hundreds of ISIS fighters in airstrikes by US and Arab warplanes.
YPG commanders in Kobani say the airstrikes have turned the tide in their favor, allowing them to capture several hills and cut off ISIS supply routes, making it only a matter of time before the fighters are forced to abandon their siege.
But the US-led intervention in Syria also highlights the failure of the Obama administration’s strategy in the Syrian civil war, which has killed more than 191,369 people, according to the latest report from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The airstrikes have alienated the country’s Sunni Arabs, who had called for such aid on their behalf for more than three years now to no avail. When warplanes began airstrikes in Syria in September 2014, many were aghast: The world was finally intervening, not against Bashar al-Assad though, but against the most powerful forces fighting him.