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Pro-IS Social Media Ridiculing U.S.-Led Efforts

Smoke rises after a U.S.-led air strike on the Syrian town of Kobani on October 8.

Smoke rises after a U.S.-led air strike on the Syrian town of Kobani on October 8.

Amid reports that coalition air strikes are targeting IS militants on the outskirts of Kobani on the afternoon of October 8 and have succeeded in pushing back IS from some parts of the city, pro-IS social media accounts are making light of U.S.-led attempts to prevent IS from taking the town, saying that IS is continuing to make gains in Kobani and has taken only light casualties.

Meanwhile, a rumor started by Kurdish sources that IS commander Umar Shishani has been killed in Kobani is spreading on social media.

The reports that IS jihadists have been forced to withdraw from parts of Kobani appear to have a single source -- the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which monitors the conflict and which is used as a trusted source by several major news outlets. However, it is not possible to independently verify SOHR’s reports, especially because the fighting in Kobani is ongoing.

Meanwhile, pro-IS accounts on Russian social network VKontakte that claim ties to Shishani’s faction dismissed the air strikes, claiming that sources in Syria say no IS militants were harmed by the Western attacks.

"The thick-headed coalition is bombing the city chaotically, destroying it bit by bit. This is the Western aid that the thick-headed idolators prayed for! By the way, not one IS fighter was wounded or killed during this time,” the account, run under the pseudonym Abu Jarah Daghestani, said.

Pro-IS accounts have also begun referring to Kobani to Ayn al-Islam as part of an attempt to push the line that IS is now in control of the town.

For their part, Kurdish sources reported on October 8 that the Kurdish YPG had killed Shishani in Kobani. While it is not possible to verify this claim, no IS sources report Shishani’s death. It is also worth noting that this is at least the sixth time that Kurdish sources have claimed to have killed Shishani.

This tweet, claiming that Shishani was among those IS fighters killed in an explosion, appears to be one of the sources of the rumor, which has since spread across social media:

As the propaganda battle rages on social media, Kurdish and other eyewitness sources are reporting fresh coalition air strikes on the Kurdish town of Kobani, near Syria’s border with Turkey, on October 8:

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena


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