In what is being reported as the first recorded instance of suicide bomber tactics being used against the terrorist Islamic State group, a female commander in the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) blew herself up to attack an Islamic State fort close to Kobane, a highly-disputed Syrian Kurdish border town.
According to Kurdish outlet Rudaw, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the suicide attack occurred amidst a battle for the town of Kobane, pivotal to controlling the Syrian-Turkish border, on Sunday. “She clashed with enemy fighters, fired grenades and then detonated herself with a grenade,” reports Rudaw.
The NGO, notes the Times of Israel, has reported that this is the first such instance of a female suicide bomber of Kurdish origin attacking the jihadist group. The newspaper notes that such an attack highlights the “Kurdish defenders’ determination to keep the jihadists at bay.”
The UK Telegraph has identified the woman as Arin Mirkan, a commander in the YPG. Another outlet, the Inquisitr, suggests that Mirkan detonated herself after being cornered, and chose to kill herself and her would-be captors rather than surrender. This report is not confirmed, however. In addition to Mirkan, estimates suggest about 33 Islamic State terrorists and 23 Kurdish soldiers died during extended attacks on Sunday.
Currently, there is no guarantee that Kurdish forces will be able to keep the Islamic State from taking the city, as an Islamic State flag has been seen flying over Kobane this morning, and clashes continue in the area. While the BBC reports that the Turkish government has also vowed to keep Kobane from falling, there is little evidence that the Islamic State forces are being held back. According to the area’s Kurdish leader, Anwar Salim, Turkey has yet to provide military or humanitarian support.
Evidence of heavy fighting in the area continues to surface, all while the support Kurds are expecting from the Turkish government remains missing in action. Al Jazeera reports that YPG representatives have stated that fighting raged overnight in the outskirts of the city, and that US and coalition airstrikes were helping, but insufficient to hold back the terrorist group indefinitely.
Should ISIS manage to capture Kobane, they would decisively link their controlled territories in Turkey and Syria, effectively dissolving an already barely-there border. Such an advance would allow Islamic State jihadists to travel to and from Turkey with even greater ease, and recruits to travel from Western nations to Turkey and insert themselves into the theater of war. Rudaw reports that the Islamic State’s jihadists have moved to within one kilometer of the city.