ISIS Victory in Kobani Could Result in Civilian Massacre, UN Warns

UN says 700 civilians remain in Syrian city besieged by ISIS.

ByAli Weinberg
October 10, 2014, 4:24 PM

— -- Seven hundred civilians in Kobani, the Kurdish region along the Syria-Turkey border, are at risk of being massacred if more is not done to save the town from the army of radicals known as ISIS, according to the United Nations’ special envoy to Syria.

The envoy, Steffan de Misura, likened the threat to Kobani to the genocidal killing in Srebrenica, the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Bosnians by a Serbian paramilitary unit.

More than 200,000 Kurds have fled Kobani and nearby villages during the three week battle for the city, and in recent days Kurdish fighters have tried to evacuate remaining civilians as ISIS forces have entered the city and are slowly advancing despite U.S. air strikes and house-to-house fighting.

The U.N. estimated today that 700 civilians remain in the city along with Kurdish fighters.

The U.S. State Department said this week that there are a “low” number of civilians in and around Kobani who would be in danger if the city fell to ISIS.

“Our partners have indicated that the number of civilians in and around Kobani remains low. I don’t have more specifics than that,” spokesperson Marie Harf said in today’s briefing. Harf said that the U.S. believes most inhabitants have crossed the border into Turkey.

On Thursday State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki declined to give an estimate of the number of civilians at risk in Kobani and denied it was because they want to avoid being seen as “abandoning” the population.

“I think we want to be responsible about what information we provided the U.S. government... Because there’s been a range of numbers, we just don’t feel we have a number that we’re prepared to give at this point now,” she said.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey told ABC News Tuesday that he understood most of the Kobani residents to have fled to Turkey and that any estimates of remaining civilians is simply “conjecture.”

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