Just days after finally being pushed out of their last positions in the Kurdish town of Kobane, northern Syria, ISIS fighters are now trying to save face.
The jihadi group has lost an enormous amount of manpower and equipment in trying to take the town, where US airstrikes and reinforcements from Kurds in Iraq enabled the lightly-armed Kurdish YPG fighters – who had defiantly resisted the Islamist advances for many months – to slowly but surely purge their embattled hometown of ISIS forces.
ISIS had at one point appeared just days away from seizing Kobane, thereby securing control of a wide strip of territory abutting the Turkish border. But the US-led bombing campaign disrupted those plans, killing countless jihadis and preventing ISIS forces from effectively amassing for their anticipated final advance.
Airdrops then provided desperately-needed arms to the town's defenders, as some 100 Peshmerga fighters from Iraq brought artillery and other heavy weapons necessary to level the playing field against Islamist fighters whose arsenals were brimming with advanced weaponry seized from Iraqi forces in Mosul.
In a series of video clips translated by MEMRI, ISIS fighters – now stationed just outside of Kobane, where fighting still rages – are seen explaining their retreat.
One terrorist calls it a "phased withdrawal," while another is more forthright, saying that they were simply unable to withstand the withering air-offensive.
But in both clips, the jihadis brush off the setback as only temporary, vowing to return.
"This method of attack and retreat has existed from the days of the Prophet and his companions," assures one fighter in Arabic. "We will attack them back and disperse them, Allah willing."