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The Islamic State's Image of Invincibility is Not
Up until late September, 2014, the ISIS offensive to control much of northern Syria seemed to be unstoppable.Their victories and beheadings were used as sick propaganda on the Web to attract more discontented people. Like the heady days of Germany invading Russia in 1941, when hundreds of thousands of Russian troops were captured or killed, ISIS did the same, except they would execute hundreds of infidel men and made sex slaves out of the women. Of course, ISIS did not have much, if any, opposition on their way to Kobani. It was a cakewalk, as thousands of their troops advanced with impunity. It was like the North Vietnamese approaching Saigon in April 1975.
But, the Kurds in Kobani made a stand. It was a last stand and in all wars, there is always one battle like this. In April, 1975, the South Vietnamese Army made their own stand at Xuan Loc, where for 10 days, a single division decided not to run as all the others had. The 18th Division repelled all attacks tossed at it despite being greatly outnumbered.
Today, the Kurds at Kobani are doing the same. That last stand really began in the last days of September and continues now. Lightly armed and employing women to the front, they held and repelled greatly frustrating the IS fighters. It was tarnishing their invincibility. Frustrated, IS sent more and more resources to the epic battle, including some 30 tanks. The battle is conventional and this is where US airpower has proven instrumental in further weakening the resolve of IS. No longer can they just send troops in large convoys, no longer can they use their tanks or artillery guns captured from the Iraqi Army, with much effectiveness. IS does not have endless resources to continue with this single battle, and yet, it is vital they win it, because if they lose, so is their invincibility and aura. Both sides know, the world is watching. The US airpower with over 130 airstrikes in the Kobani area are taking serious toll on IS tactics and strategy. Like quicksand, Kobani is drawing more and more resources from IS, its importance grows. It use to be volunteers were trained for a month before going to battle, now, even teens are being given a gun and money and then off to Kobani.
The IS attack began with around 4,000 fighters and the 1500 Kurds had made them pay a high price with over 400 IS deaths and hundreds being sent to Raqqa for medical treatment. Their tanks are now ruined. Their artillery guns are withdrawn to Anbar where 80% has been captured and where US advisers will be sent. The Sunni fighters there want to fight IS but lack weapons. Essentially, IS is fighting a two front war and being strained by it.
If Kobani falls to IS, it will be a propaganda boom for them. They will use it to attract others to come and join and fight America to create the new world. That is the value of this battle. If they lose, many volunteers will think twice and think it is a crazy, Muslim cult, which it is. The attractive invincibility of IS will be gone and things will never he the same. For the Kurds or West, it will be the opposite. Morale will soar for the Kurds and US airpower will be proven as being effective. Should IS lose the battle, they will no doubt claim they have decided to concentrate their forces in Anbar and threaten Baghdad. But that is not how the media will portray it.