BEIRUT – The Islamic State group has acknowledged for the first time that its fighters have been defeated in the Syrian town of Kobani and vowed to attack the town again.
In a video released by the pro-IS Aamaq News Agency late Friday, two fighters said the airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition were the main reason why IS fighters were forced to withdraw from Kobani.
On Monday, activists and Kurdish officials said the town was almost cleared of IS fighters, who once held nearly half of the town.
One IS fighter vowed to defeat the main Kurdish militia in Syria, the People's Protection Units known as the YPG, calling them "rats."
The failure to capture Kobani was a major blow to the extremists. Their hopes for an easy victory dissolved into a costly siege under withering airstrikes by coalition forces and an assault by Kurdish militiamen.
"A while ago we retreated a bit from Ayn al-Islam because of the bombardment and the killing of some brothers," said one masked fighter, using the group's preferred name for Kobani. He spoke Arabic with a north African accent.
The United States and several Arab allies have been striking Islamic State positions in Syria since Sept. 23. The campaign aims to push back the jihadi organization after it took over about a third of Iraq and Syria and declared the captured territory a new caliphate.
"The Islamic State will stay. Say that to (President Barack) Obama," said the fighter, pointing his finger toward destruction on the edge of Kobani.
The Islamic State group launched an offensive on the Kobani region in mid-September capturing more than 300 Kurdish villages and parts of the town. As a result of the airstrikes and stiff Kurdish resistance, IS began retreating few weeks ago, losing more than 1,000 fighters, according to activists.
More than 200,000 Kurds were forced from their homes. Many fled to neighboring Turkey.
Another fighter, also speaking in Arabic, said while standing on a road with a green sign with "Ayn al-Islam" sprayed on it: "The warplanes did not leave any construction. They destroyed everything, so we had to withdraw and the rats advanced."
"The warplanes were bombarding us night and day. They bombarded everything, even motorcycles," the fighter said.