Search Results For Yazidis

A group of Iraqi Yazidi leaders came to Washington last week to meet with officials and plead for assistance in protecting their people and lands from a renewed assault by ISIS. Josh Rogin caught up with the visiting dignitaries and listened to what they had to say:

“Our hostages, children, women, and girls, between 4,000 and 5,000 of them, have been captured by ISIS and sent to other areas. We need help to rescue these hostages,” said Sameer Karto Babasheikh, the son of the Yazidi Supreme Religious Council leader. “In Mosul, they opened a market to sell Yazidi girls. Some of them ended up in Fallujah, some of them were taken to Saudi Arabia and Raqqa in Syria.”

On the mountain, between 6,000 and 7,000 civilians and between 2,000 and 3,000 Yazidi fighters are still trapped and struggling to stay alive, cut off from any supply routes, the Yazidi leaders said. Since the airstrikes trailed off to a trickle in October, ISIS has taken over the five remaining Yazidi towns near Mount Sinjar, killing hundreds of civilians and abducting hundreds more. Even the humanitarian airdrops have halted. The Iraqi government provided two helicopters to deliver aid, but they are old and fly only once or twice a week, Babasheikh said.

Reporting from Dohuk, Alice Su confirms that “there remains no open path for civilians to get out, or for aid to get in”, while the Yazidis blame the Kurdish Peshmerga for abandoning them:

Humanitarian agencies are ready to aid Sinjar as soon as military action opens a way. Around Zumar, for example, a town north of Mosul just recaptured from the Islamic State on Oct. 25, organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) are already hard at work. “People in these risky areas are much more in need,” said ICRC spokesperson Dabbakeh Saleh. “They have been totally cut off from the rest of the world.”

A Peshmerga-led effort to liberate Sinjar would represent a reversal from the situation in August, when their retreat left the Yazidis exposed to the assault by the Islamic State. “There is no doubt that the Peshmerga not only did not fight in Sinjar, but they also did not evacuate people or tell the towns that IS had arrived in the south of the mountain,” said Iraq-based researcher Christine van den Toorn. “It was total abandonment.”

Previous Dish on the Yazidis here.

(Video: ISIS militants chat and joke about buying and selling Yazidi slaves on “slave market day”. Via Joel Wing.)

Yezidis trapped in the Sinjar mountains arrive in Syria's Haseki

ISIS militants returned last week to further harass the hundreds of Yazidis who remain on Mount Sinjar. Joel Wing provides an update on the fighting:

During the second week of the month the Kurds said that they were liberating Sinjar, which was taken by the Islamic State in August, but then it was revealed that IS had actually surrounded Mount Sinjar and were trying to take it once again. On October 20 there were clashes in all the surrounding areas such as Khazir, Bartella, Bashiqa, Tilkaif and Mount Sinjar itself. IS was able to seize two towns north of the mountain that day as Yazidi fighters ran out of ammunition. Twenty peshmerga were also killed and 51 wounded. On Mount Sinjar there are two Yazidi militias resisting the IS push. They told Rudaw that they had not received supplies for weeks. There are also YPG, PKK, and peshmerga fighters in the area as well. IS has cut off the supply routes to the mountain and the Yazidi forces are desperate for weapons and ammunition.

With hundreds of thousands of Yazidis displaced from their homes and unable to return, and with international attention having shifted to the battle for Kobani, Sheren Khalel and Matthew Vickery fear that the Yazidis won’t get the help they need before winter arrives:

Since news about the Yazidis first appeared in the headlines, more substantial — and much-needed — relief efforts have stumbled. Liene Veide, the public information officer for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), says the organization is doing all it can for internally displaced persons and refugees in the region, but that more funding and manpower is required. Coordination, it seems, is another problem: The United Nations is working with other local Kurdish organizations, along with the Kurdish Regional Government, to deliver aid, but some communities are receiving assistance multiple times, while others are getting none at all due to a lack of communication between these different organizations, Veide explained.

According to Veide, even with the new UNHCR camps currently in the planning stage in for Iraq, there still won’t be room for everyone. “What we are working on now is absolutely not enough for the whole number — absolutely not,” Veide says.

Cathy Otten reports on the psychological trauma the displaced Yazidis have endured and the limited treatment options available to them:

It’s mid-morning in the hospital and patients crowd the narrow corridors outside Dr [Haitham] Abdalrazak’s office in Zakho General Hospital. He estimates that over 70 percent of Yazidi IDPs in Zakho, a small city in Dohuk Province near the Turkish border, are suffering from trauma. Abdalrazak has a kind, serious expression. He says about 20 percent of his patients have considered suicide and about five percent have attempted it. … Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders warns that PTSD, anxiety and depression are now also affecting displaced children. The organisation has been offering psychological support to displaced people in their Dohuk mobile clinics since August, but do not have any psychiatrists working with them in the area.

(Photo: Thousands of Yezidis trapped in the Sinjar mountains without food and water for days, due to the Islamic State (IS) violence, arrive in Haseki city of Syria on August 10, 2014. By Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

George Packer checks in with his Yazidi contact “Karim” in northern Iraq, who reports that his community remains on the brink of a humanitarian disaster two months after a much-heralded rescue effort:

Yesterday, I spoke on the phone with Karim. He’s still at the top of Mt. Sinjar, living in a military camp with around a hundred fighters, the majority of them Kurdish, the rest Yazidis. They sleep in United Nations tents and eat canned food brought in by humanitarian airdrops. There is no real way out except by airlift—in the past ten or twelve days, according to Karim, ISIS has pushed Yazidi fighters out of villages north and west of Mt. Sinjar, and they now surround the mountain. Karim told me that there are still about a thousand civilians around the mountain, also living in tents. The humanitarian airdrops are not enough, food is running low, and the past few nights have been cold with the approach of winter. The Yazidi resistance fighters want an international ground force to liberate Sinjar—something that they are unlikely to get.

A few hours before we spoke, Karim said, five Yazidi girls arrived at the mountaintop camp. The youngest was nine, the oldest twenty. They had walked several dozen miles from their town to the south of the mountain. They carried nothing with them and were barefoot. The girls said that they had been held prisoner for weeks by ISIS fighters, and were badly beaten, according to Karim. Other Yazidi girls and women have been distributed in slave markets to ISIS fighters, and when I asked Karim if the girls had also been raped, he told me, “I couldn’t bear to ask that question, to be honest.”

Ralf Hoppe interviews a Yazidi woman who was kidnapped by ISIS but managed to escape after nine days in captivity:

Their captors beat them, sometimes several times in a single day, for no apparent reason. There was a man with a beard who used an electric cable, while two others preferred wooden switches. Sometimes they were also punched and kicked, and they were repeatedly sexually abused.

Nadia doesn’t give a literal account of these rapes. It is virtually impossible for her to talk about them, and it contravenes the conventions of her culture. She merely says: “We were taken individually to another room, to one of the men.” Then she lowers her head, in silence, awash with shame. “What else could we do?” she says after a while, now speaking very quietly. She says the men were merciless. Some women threw themselves at their tormentors’ feet, kissed their knees and hands, and — eyes filled with tears — pleaded for mercy. It was no use. The men remained unmoved. It only entertained them.

The jihadists are claiming a theological justification for enslaving the Yazidis in their English-language propaganda newsletter Dabiq:

The Islamic State newsletter, released online at the weekend, also contains an article by John Cantlie, a British journalist being held hostage, in which he says he fears he will soon be killed like his four fellow hostages, James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines and Alan Henning. But most of it is devoted to theological justifications for Islamic State behaviour, citing early clerics and the practices of the Prophet Mohammed and his Companions during the early years of Islamic expansion.

“The enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the Islamic State soldiers as the mushrikin were sold by the Companions before them,” the article, entitled “The Revival of Slavery before the Hour”, says. It says that “well-known” rules are observed, including not separating mothers from their children – something which may account for the number of teenage girls being used in this way, according to their families. It says that 20 per cent of women are being taken in this way, in accordance with rules demanding a fifth of property captured in war to be handed over as tax.

by Dish Staff

While the White House views the operation to break the siege on Mount Sinjar in northwestern Iraq as a success, Spencer Ackerman, Mona Mahmood and Kenton Powell report that as many as 4,000 displaced Yazidis remain on the mountain and are looking for help in driving out the ISIS militants who still threaten their homeland:

The Pentagon estimated two weeks ago that 4,000 to 5,000 people remained on the mountain, and says it cannot offer a more current estimate. The US Agency for International Development assesses that perhaps 2,000 people do not intend to leave. The United Nations mission to Iraq pegged the residual population at “a few hundred who did not want to leave,” said spokeswoman Eliana Nabaa. Although Barack Obama said US warplanes and Kurdish forces “broke the siege of Mount Sinjar,” Isis fighters remain, confronted by a small and desperate Yazidi force. “We need weapons now more than food or water,” Salim Hassan, a Yazidi fighter on Mount Sinjar, told the Guardian.

Ford Sypher provides a grim update on the Yazidi women who were kidnapped by ISIS, who are reportedly being sold as sex slaves or subjected to gang rape in the Mosul prison where they are held:

Survivors who managed to escape from ISIS say the women held in its prison in Mosul face two fates: Those who convert to Islam are sold as brides to Islamist fighters for prices as low as $25, and ranging up to $150. Those who do not convert face daily rape and a slow death.

Accounts of the prison have come from women who managed to hide their cellular phones, calling relatives to describe their plight. Some imprisoned women have been forced by militants to call their families. The mother of one woman still held captive told The Daily Beast about the call she received from her daughter. She was forced to listen as her daughter detailed being raped by dozens of men over the course of a few hours. Still other women testified that multiple children had been born under these conditions, with the newborns ripped away from their mother’s arms to fates unknown.

by Dish Staff

While the Yazidis who fled their hometown of Sinjar and sought refuge in the mountains to the north are apparently no longer under siege by ISIS and hopefully will be able to escape to safety soon, Kimberly Dozier points to the others, for whom no rescue is forthcoming:

ISIS has taken hundreds, if not thousands, of Yezidis prisoner, and threatened them with slavery and rape. But a few of the prisoners have smuggled in cellphones and are reaching out—pleading for help. In desperate phone calls to relatives in Iraq and in the U.S., they’re begging for rescue from the prisons, schools or mosques across northern Iraq, where they are being held by ISIS militants.

They all tell a similar tale of horror:

families fleeing on foot caught by militants in trucks and cars. The men are then dragged away at gunpoint from their wives and children, never to be seen again. The younger unmarried women are being told they will be forcibly married to ISIS fighters. Some are taken away and raped and a few have even been sold at Mosul’s main market. The married women aren’t sure what will happen to them and their children—they fear they will be sold into slavery.

Matt Cetti-Roberts spoke to some Yazidis who managed to escape when ISIS overran Sinjar but whose families were not so fortunate. Resaleh Shirgany recounts:

I left my mother. I had never met her before because my parents were divorced, and four other family. [Crying.] They were living in the the Al Jazeera [housing] complex in the northwest of Sinjar. It was the third day after da’ash arrived. They discovered where they were living and my mother was one of five families that were raped. First they raped the women in front of the men, they then killed the husbands while the wives watched and then they killed the women. It was a massacre there. [Crying.] …

The same day when we ran away [from the mountain], my two female cousins who were behind us in a car as we left were captured by da’ash. One of them was pregnant and with her husband and her brother-in-law. They were stopped in the middle of the street. They raped them in front of the people that were with them and I could see it from the back window of the car. Suddenly everyone was gone. They took them away.

Previous Dish on the plight of the Yazidis here.

Rescuing The Yazidis

Jonah Shepp —  Aug 11 2014 @ 5:12pm
by Jonah Shepp

More than half of the 40,000 Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar by ISIS militants have managed to escape through a safe passage opened by Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish militias, but many still remain in danger:

The refugees, all members of the Yazidi sect, began streaming back into Iraqi Kurdistan on Sunday after a perilous journey past Islamic State militants who had vowed to kill them and had surrounded their hideout on Mount Sinjar after storming the area. The day-long trek took them first over a mountain range into Syria, then through the Peshkhabour crossing three hours north-west of Irbil, where Kurdish officials were rushing to provide food and shelter.

Fleeing Yazidis said their escape had been aided by the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish rebel faction, and by US air strikes on Islamic State (Isis) positions which had forced the jihadists to withdraw for around six hours on Saturday. Their retreat gave a window for thousands of Yazidis, all desperately low on food and water, to begin streaming down the mile-high mountain and north across the Nineveh plains, which have been an ancient homeland of Iraqi minorities.

It’s important to remember that “rescuing” the Yazidis means, for now, sending them to save havens far from home. They are refugees, part of a massive wave of displacement, and will require consistent support while in exile and at some point (hopefully) in returning to their homes. I stress this because refugees have a tendency to get buried in our consciousness of protracted conflicts, especially in the Middle East. Esther Yu-Hsi Lee tallies the Iraqis displaced in the current conflict, who number over 1 million:

Just this week alone, the rapid advance of ISIL forces in several cities of Iraq has forced the internal displacement of about 195,000 refugees, including adherents of the religious Yazidi sect, Palestinians, and Turkmen living in Iraq — a move that has sent neighboring countries and international agencies scrambling to accommodate the refugee crisis within Iraq. …

Overall, nearly 200,000 internally displaced people have fled away from major cities, like Qaraqosh, the largest Christian city captured by ISIL this week, with the greatest concentration of people fleeing towards the northern provinces of Dahuk, Erbil, and Kirkuk, and Sulaymaniyah, near Turkey. Between January and July, there were at least 1.2 million displaced refugees within Iraq. And in June, the United Nations upgraded Iraq’s crisis to a level 3 humanitarian disaster — the most severe rating it has.

There’s really no overstating how catastrophic this situation is. Hundreds of thousands of refugees is one thing; hundreds of thousands more refugees, on top of multiple, unresolved refugee crises involving millions of people, is quite another. The sheer scale of the displacement is hard for us as Americans to comprehend, which makes it equally hard to appreciate the outsized role refugees have played in the history of the modern Middle East and the conflicts playing out there today. Some Arab communities, particularly the Palestinians, have suffered the trauma of being shuffled from one conflict zone to another over the course of three generations. That has to take a toll on one’s psychological wellbeing as well as one’s worldview: it’s really no shocker that people in such an intractable predicament are prone to radicalization and have a hard time building democratic states and civil societies.

Who Are The Yazidis?

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 8 2014 @ 11:30am

Raya Jalabi profiles the ancient faith community whose ongoing persecution at the hands of ISIS was a major factor driving Obama’s decision to authorize air strikes in Iraq:

The ancient religion is rumoured to have been founded by an 11th century Ummayyad sheikh, and is derived from Zoroastrianism (an ancient Persian faith founded by a philosopher), Christianity and Islam. The religion has taken elements from each, ranging from baptism (Christianity) to circumcision (Islam) to reverence of fire as a manifestation from God (derived from Zoroastrianism) and yet remains distinctly non-Abrahamic. This derivative quality has often led the Yazidis to be referred to as a sect.

At the core of the Yazidis’ marginalization is their worship of a fallen angel, Melek Tawwus, or Peacock Angel, one of the seven angels that take primacy in their beliefs.

Unlike the fall from grace of Satan, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, Melek Tawwus was forgiven and returned to heaven by God. The importance of Melek Tawwus to the Yazidis has given them an undeserved reputation for being devil-worshippers – a notoriety that, in the climate of extremism gripping Iraq, has turned life-threatening.

Under Ottoman rule in the 18th and 19th centuries alone, the Yazidis were subject to 72 genocidal massacres. More recently in 2007, hundreds of Yazidis were killed as a spate of car bombs ripped through their stronghold in northern Iraq. With numbers of dead as close to 800, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent, this was one of the single deadliest events to take place during the American-led invasion. The Yazidis had been denounced as infidels by Al-Qaida in Iraq, a predecessor of Isis, which sanctioned their indiscriminate killing.

A BBC feature explores the Yazidis’ beliefs and customs further:

Their own name for themselves is Daasin (plural Dawaaseen), which is taken from the name of an old Nestorian – the Ancient Church of the East – diocese, for many of their beliefs are derived from Christianity. They revere both the Bible and the Koran, but much of their own tradition is oral. Due in part to its secrecy, there have been misunderstandings that the complex Yazidi faith is linked to Zoroastrianism with a light/dark duality and even sun worship. Recent scholarship, however, has shown that although their shrines are often decorated with the sun and that graves point east towards the sunrise, they share many elements with Christianity and Islam.

Children are baptised with consecrated water by a pir (priest). At weddings he breaks bread and gives one half to the bride and the other to the groom. The bride, dressed in red, visits Christian churches. In December, Yazidis fast for three days, before drinking wine with the pir. On 15-20 September there is an annual pilgrimage to the tomb of Sheikh Adi at Lalesh north of Mosul, where they carry out ritual ablutions in the river. They also practise sacrifice of animals and circumcision.

Who Will Protect The Yazidis?

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 19 2007 @ 1:49pm

Tom Gross wants to know.

The Best Of The Dish Today

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 29 2014 @ 9:15pm

Tough Mudder London South 2014

Another note on the swift descent of ethical journalism. One concern I’ve repeatedly voiced is that at some point, corporations will simply dispense with “sponsored content” on existing publications and create newspapers and magazines for themselves. Since the Fourth Estate has already abandoned any pretense of being independent of advertizers for their content, it’s a small jump. And here comes Verizon with a new website:

The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.

There’s just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.

It gets worse, doesn’t it?

Today, we revisited the plight of the Yazidis still facing the terror of ISIS; that “chickenshit” Netanyahu; and the broad definition of “sexual assault” that Ivy League higher-ups have signed onto, even if their students don’t quite agree. Plus: the campaign to shut down and even criminalize “toxic male culture”. I also re-engaged Ross Douthat on the issue of pastoral treatment of divorced and re-married Catholics.

Plus: a gorgeous video celebrating New York City and Paris.

The most popular post of the day was A Declaration Of War Against Francis; followed by Does The Self Exist? Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here.  You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 24 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. Dish t-shirts are for sale here, including the new “Know Dope” shirts, which are detailed here. Below are images for the general design and the DC-specific one (also available are ones for Oregon and Alaska – the two other states voting on legalization Tuesday):



The final email for the day comes from a veteran programmer. I’m going to give her the last word on the gamergate furore:

This is regarding your post about gamergate.  I have been a very loyal reader of your blog for more than 10 years now and have been a subscriber for two.  I have always dearly admired and respected you.  I know this email is long and harshly worded in places, but please take the time to read it.  It would mean a lot to me.

Your readers were right to warn you about not writing about that debate.  At the very least, you should have researched the industry you were covering before making comments about it.  Perhaps you did by reading some extremely lazy leftist writing on the subject (of which there is unfortunately much) or because you’ve been hanging out with Breitbart, who seems to be your ideological bedfellow in this – I don’t know.

[Ed. note: Professional details written here are being left out “because my identity will be easy to determine and it may put my life and that of my family in danger (this happened to other women for much less).] Whom I know is not especially important – the industry is so small that anyone who has been there for as long as I have knows all these same people.  (Gamergate doesn’t quite see things that way and continues to weave conspiracy theories about it.)  What I mean to convey is how personal all this is to me.

I don’t actually want to bring up the ludicrous “both sides have been bullied” quote, considering that only “one side” has received credible death threats that are being investigated by the FBI. [Ed. note: that “both sides” line was clarified in a follow-up post the reader may have missed.] I don’t mean to complain, because much like all of the mature nerdy adults I know, I’m over it, but I have to ask: do you honestly believe that only nerdy white males exist, that nerdy girls don’t get bullied?  (I know I was!)  I also had to then deal with not being taken seriously as a “fellow gamer” by the “gamer culture” whose end you’re lamenting for some reason (worry not, it will continue to thrive as is).

And you compare it to gay culture, as if there has ever been any actual or remotely comparable discrimination of gamers! Recall all the gamers who were murdered when they were caught holding hands in public while arranging for DS Download Play on their DSes!

Let’s take a moment of silence for the gamers who bought the latest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare only to be brutally beaten the next day for talking fondly about it in school!  Let’s remember that time the arch-conservative Jack Thompson was preaching about the harm people who buy games do to society – wait wait, my bad … that was the game industry he was blaming for school shootings and the like.  Andrew, forgive me, but you are off your rocker.

On the contrary, the multi-billion industry that is video games have catered to gamers to such a degree that it’s had some regrettable side effects.  For instance, it is not uncommon for game creators to receive death threats for changing a game mechanic (in an effort to improve the experience for their audience)!  It’s been happening for some time!  Writers have been harassed to the point of quitting the games industry for including an optional homosexual romance in a popular game (Dragon Age 2). The anxiety and the terror I feel that the other shoe could drop at any minute, and that my life or that of my family could be in danger, is very real and has caused me a lot of anguish and stress.

The truth is, this is an audience that is so used to being treated with velvet gloves and getting their way, that manipulating the creators via threats is actually seen by some as a perfectly reasonable way to register a complaint. Short of the awful harassment that George Lucas must have suffered for “ruining childhoods” (not that I disagree he made some poor films), can you imagine any other creative medium with this kind of audience?

The developer who has been the real subject of gamergate for some time created a game about depression that was more an “interactive experience” (not unlike the old text adventure games of the early video games, ironically) and was not seen as a “real game” by those now in the gamergate movement.  She was harassed well before her ex-boyfriend tried to ruin her life and career on the internet by airing their dirty laundry with that callous post. Why? Because there are people who don’t want developers to make games they don’t want to play and for them, simply ignoring these developers and their games won’t do.  It’s as if Britney Spears fans went on a hateful rampage because they could not live in a world where Mary Timony was producing records, simply because Pitchfork chose to write about Mary’s releases every once in a while.

Let’s talk for a moment about Anita Sarkeesian.  I support her work in spite of disagreeing with much of it, because I believe that if video games are ever to be a respected medium, acknowledged for meaningful cultural commentary (which I believe it very much deserves), it needs to have a rich tradition of critique and criticism – whether the critique is something everyone agrees with or not. However, no reasonable discussion can take place when Sarkeesian is being harassed and threatened with sexually violent murder.  It so happens that the only video I ever found compelling of the many she has made is this one:

Analysis like yours strokes the hateful mob’s egos and reduces it entirely to what both the far left and Breitbart find intriguing: “a culture war”.  Imagine how much progress could have been made about our environment or global warming if it hadn’t become part of the culture war.  All this kind of politicizing does is force people to take sides that have no nuance, and I want no part in it.  I happen to be a woman developer (already suspect for gamergate) who happens to make quirky games that people in that movement would hate but may refuse to ignore by harassing me (something I’m extremely worried about).  Much as I have little respect for the left’s handling of this garbage, they actually stand up for my personal safety!  They denounce these jerks when they see them, even if it’s with ridiculous academic language.

From everything I’ve seen, gamergate is an angry mob bent on bullying game creators into making something other than what they want to make.  It is an angry mob bent on bullying journalists into voicing opinions other than those they have.  They bully not by name-calling, rude words, or insults, but with threats of murder, rape, and school shootings.  If your heart was in the right place, as it usually is, you should be condemning these asshole reactionaries.  For the first time in my life, you’re talking about an issue that DIRECTLY affects me and my livelihood, and you’ve taken the bullies’ side, Andrew.  It absolutely breaks my heart.  Why, why, why can’t you call them on their shit?

For the record, this was the second paragraph of my post:

The tactics of harassment, threats of violence, foul misogyny, and stalking have absolutely no legitimate place in any discourse. Having read about what has happened to several women, who have merely dared to exercise their First Amendment rights, I can only say it’s been one of those rare stories that still has the capacity to shock me. I know it isn’t fair to tarnish an entire tendency with this kind of extremism, but the fact that this tactic seemed to be the first thing that some gamergate advocates deployed should send off some red flashing lights as to the culture it is defending.

See you in the morning.

(Photo: Competitors take part in the Tough Mudder London South in Winchester, England on October 25, 2014. The world-famous Tough Mudder is a military-style endurance event over 10-12 mile obstacle course designed to test all-around strength, stamina, teamwork, and mental grit. By Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

The Battle For Kobani, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 7 2014 @ 11:27am

Since yesterday, ISIS militants in northern Syria have penetrated farther into the town of Kobani (also known as Ain al-Arab) on the Turkish border, driving back the Kurdish militias defending it and sending thousands of civilians fleeing for their lives to safe havens in Turkey:

Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for Kurds in Kobane, told Agence France-Presse that 2,000 civilians were evacuated on Monday and that all civilians were ordered to leave. More than 180,000 refugees from around Kobane have already poured over the border into Turkey since the siege on the city started three weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reports. IS fighters have already captured more than 300 Kurdish villages around Kobane, but the street-to-street fighting on Monday put them within a mile of the city center. They now surround the city on three sides.

New coalition air strikes reportedly launched today may not be enough to turn the battle against the jihadists, but there are signs that Turkey is preparing to act:

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey suggested Tuesday afternoon that the strikes may have come too late, telling Syrian refugees at a camp in Gaziantep Province, near the border, that Kobani was about to fall, The Associated Press reported. “There has to be cooperation with those who are fighting on the ground,” he was quoted as saying, while adding that airstrikes might not be enough. The latest fighting is taking place in full view of Turkish forces who have massed tanks with their cannons pointing toward Syria but who have not opened fire or otherwise intervened.

Marc Champion urges more support and arms for the Syrian Kurds:

Kobani is the main town in the Westernmost of three areas that make up the self-proclaimed Kurdish-run autonomous region of Rojava. Kobani sits across the main road that runs along the Turkish-Syria border, and if Islamic State can take it, the group can pass through it to get directly from Aleppo in the West to other territories it holds in the east. Plus, the area controls a border crossing. So Islamic State wants to take Kobani, followed by the other parts of Rojava, to make their safe haven safer. Denying Islamic State this victory should therefore be important to the coalition’s goals.

But an effective defense would require assistance from Ankara, and “Erdogan appears to be holding the town, and the coalition, hostage to his broader fights with the PKK and with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad”:

I’m not sure what the answer is for the Kurds of Kobani. They deserve sympathy for their plight, but their leaders are making a choice, too: To fight and die rather than give up their dream of Kurdish self-rule in a pocket of Syria. It seems clear that without Turkish support, the coalition can’t or won’t unleash its full air power to save Kobani, and that this support won’t materialize until the Kurds agree to a buffer zone. That, surely, is by now Rojava’s least bad option.

Goldblog fears a massacre in Kobani if ISIS is not beaten back:

I just got off the phone with a desperate-sounding Kurdish intelligence official, Rooz Bahjat, who said he fears that Kobani could fall to ISIS within the next 24 hours. If it does, he predicts that ISIS will murder thousands in the city, which is crammed with refugees—Kurdish, Turkmen, Christian, and Arab—from other parts of the Syrian charnel house. As many as 50,000 civilians remain in the town, Bahjat said.

“A terrible slaughter is coming. If they take the city, we should expect to have 5,000 dead within 24 or 36 hours,” he told me. “It will be worse than Sinjar,” the site of a recent ISIS massacre that helped prompt President Obama to fight ISIS. There have been reports of airstrikes on ISIS vehicles, but so far, Bahjat said that these strikes have been modest in scope and notably ineffective.

Zack Beauchamp explains how the jihadists advanced on the town so rapidly:

Why did things change? Most analysts say it’s about Iraq. When ISIS swept northern Iraq beginning June 10, its militants captured enormous amounts of advanced, American-made military equipment that had been dropped by the Iraqi army, including mortars and frontline battle tanks, which they’ve brought to the fight in Syria. The Kurdish forces are now outgunned. And because they’re surrounded, they can’t resupply.

But William Gourlay believes that “the brave fight of the PYD has demonstrated the military shortcomings of ISIS”:

That local militias – with only light arms and little outside support – can hold off a major ISIS offensive, including a great deal of heavy weaponry of US and Russian origin, indicates that ISIS’s military prowess is vastly overstated. The PYD militias are tenacious and are fighting to hold their homeland, to be sure, but one can only wonder how easily ISIS may have been defeated in this arena if the might of the US-led coalition had been effectively brought to bear.