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Islamic State Fighters Admit Kobani Defeat


A Syrian Kurdish sniper sits among the rubble in the Syrian city of Kobani, Jan. 30, 2015.

Islamic State fighters facing Kurdish troops and allied air support on Saturday acknowledged defeat and retreat from the key Syrian border city of Kobani, after months of fighting.

A U.S. commander coordinating allied airstrikes targeting extremist fighters confirmed the Kurdish victory. In a statement, Lieutenant General James Terry said further coalition airstrikes would back Kurdish fighters in their push to drive the militant force from surrounding areas near Syria's northern border with Turkey.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking Saturday in Boston, said taking Kobani was a strategic and symbolic objective in the battle against Islamic State.

In a video released Saturday, two men claiming to be IS militants said airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition were the main reason the group was forced to withdraw from Kobani. However, they vowed the extremist group would launch attacks on positions in and near the war-ravaged city in the future.

"A while ago, we slowly started retreating from Ayn al-Islam due to the shelling and the murder of some of our brothers," said one of the fighters in the video, using the name the Islamic State group prefers for Kobani.

The turn in the fight for Kobani could prove to be a key defeat for the Islamic State, which has seized control of vast parts of Syria and Iraq in the past seven months.