The advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria, has ground to a halt following the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition that has been pounding the militants' targets while the armed Kurdish factions, including the Kurdish Regional Government's Peshmerga forces, have been organizing operations with the Iraqi forces, which are backed by the Shiite militias. Kurdish fighters are pushing their way into the town of Sinjar, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against ISIS, who captured the town last summer. Loud explosions and intense gun battles were heard from inside the town. Kurdish peshmerga fighters two weeks ago launched the operation to retake Sinjar. Kurdish fighters opened up a passageway to Mt. Sinjar, overlooking the town, to evacuate some of the thousands of Yazidis trapped on the mountain due to the fighting. The fierce battles still continue in the town.
The siege of Kobani by ISIS militants changed the balance of the three-year-long Syrian civil war. While ISIS seems determined to capture the small Kurdish town to improve communications with cities in Iraq that were captured a few months before and attack Kurds in northern Iraq, the PKK's official Syrian branch, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed People's Protection Units (YPG), were trying to defend the town, aided by weapons and airstrikes provided by the anti-ISIS coalition. More than three months ago, ISIS militants launched assaults on the town. While the militants advanced into the town at the beginning, the armed Kurdish factions, along with some groups from the Free Syrian Army, prevented the militants from seizing control. Although the militants have not retreated fully, they have apparently lost the ground required to launch a mass attack. The fights are not as intensified as they once were. Last week Kurdish factions claimed that they were controlling at least 60 per cent of the town's territories. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group that monitors the war in Syria also confirmed that ISIS has been losing the territories that it captured in the last months. Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Kurdish forces now control more than 60 percent of the city. ISIS has even left areas that the Kurds did not enter for fear of mines." A Kurdish activist from Kobane, Mustefa Ebdi told AFP Kurdish militia defending the town had advanced eastwards on the frontline during the past week. ISIS has withdrawn from the seized Kurdish militia headquarters in the north of the city, as well as from southern and central districts, according to activists. "The Kurdish advance is due largely to the air strikes by the coalition," said Ebdi. "The militants are now using tunnels after failing in their tactics of car bombs and explosive belts," he said. ISIS militants have started suicide bombings inside the town. Yet, Kurdish activists claimed that the militants have not been successful to lead mass losses of Kurdish fighters so far.