Fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria raised their black flag on Monday in the Syrian city of Kobani, where ISIS militants have been battling Kurdish forces for control of the town, according to a Turkish military officer and Reuters TV images.
The militants took over the eastern part of Kobani, but not yet the entire border town, NBC News’ Ayman Mohyeldin confirmed Monday morning on “José Díaz-Balart.”
“This is a very symbolic development and a strategic one because it’s right up on the Turkish border, so it sends an important message,” Mohyeldin added. “This is a sign that perhaps ISIS has not been degraded as much as we’ve been told so by some of the coalition countries involved in this airfight.”
The move demonstrates the ability of the fighters to continue taking land, he said.
“I’m really shocked at how limited the campaign has been, and that Kobani was allowed to fall. … It’s just astonishing that the administration hasn’t stepped up its campaign by now,” Matthew VanDyke, a documentary filmmaker who has been on the ground in Syria, also said on the show.
The militant group had been gaining ground in Kobani, which is located near the Turkish border. Turkey’s Parliament last week voted to authorize military action against ISIS, complicating continued efforts by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime is also at war with the militants. Turkey, which is among the more than 40 nations that have joined the U.S.-led coalition to fight ISIS, is the first country to authorize the deployment of ground troops. It also offers strategic base locations for the enforcement of a no-fly zone.
ISIS has taken control of other large areas of Syria and northern Iraq. U.S.-led military attacks against the group continued over the weekend, with three airstrikes in Syria and six in Iraq, msnbc previously reported. The launches destroyed ISIS vehicles and firing positions.
Since the United States and five allied Arab nations first launched more than 50 strikes against ISIS in Syria last month, the coalition has attacked ISIS-controlled oil refineries, vehicles, weapon caches, and troop positions. The initial strikes marked the first time American forces had carried out a military mission inside the war-torn country.
Vice President Joe Biden apologized on Saturday for recent remarks he made about allies being the “biggest problem,” implying that Turkey and other U.S. partners previously helped Islamic extremists in Syria.
The Parliament of Canada is expected to vote Monday on whether or not the country will join the coalition to fight ISIS.
ISIS has beheaded two American journalists – James Foley and Steven Sotloff – and is threatening the life of Peter Kassig, a 26-year-old U.S. aid worker. The terrorist group also murdered two British hostages – aid workers Alan Henning and David Haines. Henning’s execution last Friday was the fourth time the Islamist militants beheaded a Western hostage and released a video intended to send a message to the U.S. government and its allies.
A French tourist was similarly killed in September by an Algerian terrorist group aligned with ISIS. The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning the abuses carried out by the terrorist group and extremists everywhere.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has reiterated that the U.S.-led coalition is at the beginning, not the end, of its efforts to destroy ISIS.