Adla Hasso can restrain the tears no longer. First one, then another trickle silently down her cheeks.wpid-egypt-clashes.jpg

For four months this city in northern Syria was in the grip of the Islamic State militants – four long months that Adla Hasso and her family had to endure with shells raining down on them, constant fighting and reports of yet more people killed or wounded.

Adla Hasso is at the end of her tether after surviving those months in the devastated city.

This is the third day since Kurdish fighters drove the Islamic State extremists out, and a ghostly silence has settled over Kobane and its empty streets, broken only by the occasional hooting of a passing car.

The Kurdish men inside celebrate their success holding up their fingers in a victory sign.

Adla Hasso, who is in her early forties, stands with her family on the side of the road, wiping the tears from her eyes with a handkerchief.

With her scarf protecting her head and neck from the January cold, she says she is happy and proud that her city has been liberated.

“But we paid for it with so much blood,” she says. Her uncle died in the fighting, along with many of her neighbours.

No street in this city on the border with Turkey has been left unmarked by the fighting that raged here. Whole rows of houses, and even entire quarters, have been reduced to rubble and ashes.

Houses have collapsed, facades been blown out and walls have had holes punched through them. Wrecked and burnt out cars and trucks litter the streets.

The war has turned Kobane into a ghost town – grey and dusty.

But it is estimated that there are still around 15,000 civilians living here, those who either could not or did not want to flee.

Entire families stuck it out through the bombs. Three little girls emerge onto one of the empty streets to congratulate the Kurdish fighters.

There are children in Adla Hasso’s extended family as well, including a little boy of a year old with a dummy in his mouth.

His mother Sadiqa says she did not fear for her life through the fighting.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have provided the family with water and food. Kurdish fighters patrol the streets, their rifles over their shoulders and their hands blackened with days of grime.

Khabat Khalil, 20, is one of them, a young lad with a thin beard fringing his chin. He has returned to the city from the front to meet his friends.

Until two months ago, Khabat was living in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Then he returned to his home city to drive the Islamic State extremists out.

“It was a fantastic battle,” he says with a smile, as though it had been a football match. He still has a hand grenade in his hand.

He too denies feeling fear of IS and its cruelties, as do so many here. Only a few reveal their innermost feelings the way Adla Hasso does.

Municipal official Mohammed Saidi is out on the streets to check on the electricity and water supply networks, which have been destroyed.

“As a first step we are trying to provide people with these services again,” he says.

While many areas of the city have been liberated, they are not yet secure. YPG fighters are combing through the houses in search of bodies and hidden explosive devices.

At the same time they assess which buildings are still habitable. Mohammed Saidi declines to estimate the total costs of the damage, but he knows that reconstruction will cost millions and will only be possible with foreign assistance.

“I would like the whole world to know what has happened here,” Mohammed Saidi says, moving on to continue his task as the sun sets.

After darkness falls over the blacked out city, a jet fighter of the international coalition roars overhead in support of the Kurdish fighters.

An explosion can be heard in the distance shortly afterwards. While the battle for Kobane is over, Islamic State continues to control dozens of surrounding villages, and there is no end to the wider war in sight.


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