Battle for Kobanê: 6-8 October uprising

Kobanê was liberated almost four months after 6-8 October uprising. This time period was one of the bloodiest of the war against ISIS gangs.

All eyes were on Kobanê in October 2014. ISIS gangs were approaching the city from the south, killing hundreds of civilians, beheading whoever they capture. The fighters had no place to retreat nor did they want to do so. They had to fight an impossible war with an apparently slightest chance to triumph or survive.

The 6-8 October uprising in Northern Kurdistan was one of the bloodiest uprising in Kurdistan’s modern history. The uprising hit its peak when Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “Kobanê is about to fall.” 48 civilians and 2 policemen were killed in Amed, Mus, Batman, Antep, Van, Urfa, Siirt, Mardin, Bingöl, Istanbul, İzmir and Adana. More than 700 were wounded and 4,291 were detained.


On 19 July 2012, the Kobanê town of Rojava declared its autonomy. It was followed by Cizire and Afrin.

It was almost a year after the civil war started in Syria and Kurdish population was concerned by the rise of radical terrorist groups like Al-Nusra, ISIS and some fractions of the Free Syrian Army. Kurds and other ethnic groups in Kobanê, Afrin and Cizire cantons, knew that they needed to organize against the threats by radical groups.

Of the three cantons Kobanê was the most vulnerable. It was surrounded by ISIS and Al-Nusra and had a limited arsenal and manpower. Turkey did not only impose an embargo against Kobanê canton, it was also cooperating with ISIS and Al-Nusra to destroy the Rojava Revolution. On 10 September 2014, ISIS started an assault from the south of the canton, and started rapidly advancing to the town. Thousands of people from Kobanê’s villages took refugee in the town centre.

On September 20 the first mortar of ISIS hit Kobanê town centre and heavy artillery fire followed. Hundreds of thousands of civilians had to cross the border and leave the city. As of the first days of October 2014, there were only YPG and YPJ fighters and a few hundreds of supporters in the city.


Then a hero from the Battle of Kobanê took stage. On October 5, a Kurdish woman fighter Arin Mirkan ran towards an ISIS position near Mishtenur Hill, opened fire and finally blew herself up with a hand grenade. Several ISIS members were killed in the attack and it was a psychological blow to ISIS.

Her last words were “I have to do this for my people. We will meet in a future where our people and leader are free”.

Mirkan was one of the 15 YPG fighters who lost their lives that day. And that day was a key turning point for the Battle of Kobanê.


On October 6 there were some protests especially in Diyarbakir (Amed) and Varto, a district of Muş province. But the most violent wave of protests came after Turkish president Erdoğan’s remarks in Antep on October 7, 2014.

Until that date ErdoĞan refused to give permission for passage of reinforcements to Kobanê and repeatedly said that PYD, YPG and YPJ are terrorist organizations. But one sentence was more than enough to light a fire that would draw tens of thousands to the streets: “Kobanê is about to fall”.

Erdoğan’s words rang the bell for the Kurds in Northern Kurdistan.

On the night of October 7, there were violent protests in Kurdish cities. Angry demonstrators burned down government buildings and raided police stations in Diyarbakır, Muş, Van, Mardin, Batman, Siirt, Bingöl and Antep. Turkish police and soldiers completely locked themselves in their garrisons.

The key demand of the protestors was opening of a corridor between Cizire and Kobane so that the Kurds would be able to send reinforcements to the besieged city.

Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan released a statement on October 9 and called on Kurds to end their protests and gave an ultimatum to AKP government. Öcalan stressed that the negotiation process would cease if AKP government did not act against the ISIS siege on Kobanê.

Despite Öcalan’s remarks the protests continued for another day. Turkish army deployed tanks and other armoured vehicles to the cities while Turkish government declared curfew in the Kurdish region.


According to the information provided by Turkish General Directorate of Security, there occurred 2,389 incidents that were related to Kobanê protests in 36 cities. 50 people, including 2 policemen were killed during the uprising. Most of them were murdered by Turkish security forces. More than 700 were wounded.

The international coalition started to provide aerial support to the fighters in Kobanê in the wake of the uprising. With the uprisings Kobanê was also brought to the international agenda. The United Nations called upon the international coalition to do whatever they can to save Kobanê. There were messages of support from the European Union and the Council of Europe.


Kobanê was liberated almost four months after 6-8 October uprising. This time period was one of the bloodiest of the war against ISIS gangs.

In October 2014 with the support of Turkey, ISIS gangs managed to take control of almost two thirds of the city. But at the end of the month Turkey was forced to give permission to Kurdish peshmerga to transfer heavy weaponry to Kobanê. This was only possible because of the uprisings of 6-8 October. 

In November the tide turned and Kurdish forces started to gain ground against ISIS. After repeatedly failed attacks against the border gate, ISIS forces were unable to protect their positions in the town centre. 

Finally, on January 19, 2015 YPG fighters fully recaptured Mishtenur Hill where Arin Mirkan and 14 of her fellow comrades had sacrificed their lives on October 5. And the city was fully liberated on January 27.

During the Battle of Kobanê about 1200 Kurdish fighters and more than 100 FSA members lost their lives. More than 2000 ISIS members were also killed.

The number of the civilian casualties could not be verified but Kobanê Administration at the time put the number to more than 400.