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As Kobani burned
2014

Throughout the day men gathered on the rooftop of a lone, abandoned house on a hill overlooking the turkish-syrian and beyond to the city of kobani.

They stood, squinting into the distance; some watched through binoculars or theodolites. The sun blazed through towers of smoke that rose silently above Kobani. The mood was mournful, quiet even with the sounds of gunfire and exploding mortars in the distance.

These men arent here for fun, a local Turkish man said. Those are their homes, he continued, pointing towards the city that had been under siege from militants of the Islamic State (IS) for more than a week.

The men he was referring to were among the hundreds of thousands that have fled Kobani in recent weeks as the stories of IS atrocities made their way into the households of the 400,000 residents.

Most had crossed the border, less than a mile away into Turkey, and were sheltering in makeshift camps, construction sites, mosques, schools, or had taken refuge in the homes of good Samaritans.

During the day, many staying in nearby Suru or Urfa would make their way back to the border region to watch as hope for their city appeared to be slipping by the day. Kurdish YPG fighters, outnumbered and outgunned, were simply no match for the IS forces who raised their flag in the east of Kobani in a seeming show of preliminary victory, on Oct. 7.

As the battle wore on, the Kurds (and sympathetic Turks) who made their way to the border each day became increasingly infuriated by the presence of the Turkish soldiers. Not only were they not acting to protect those just across the border from IS, they were there to prevent the hundreds of Kurdish men who wished to to return to Kobani to join the fight from crossing back over the border into Syria and into battle.

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