Turkey is warning that the city of Kobani, which sits on the Syria-Turkey border, could at any moment fall to fighters affiliated with the Islamic State. That development would represent a huge setback for the U.S.-led air campaign in Syria and could portend a humanitarian catastrophe. Kurdish forces are warning of a possible massacre if Kobani falls to the Islamic State, which would solidify the group’s control of a large chunk of territory along Syria’s border with Turkey.
Kobani is now the sole remaining Kurdish-controlled town along a huge stretch of the Syrian border. To understand how isolated it is from the rest of the country, consider the map below. Syrian Kurds have in recent weeks been battling with Islamic State militants elsewhere in Syria, but it is in Kobani where that fighting has entered a key phase, as the militant group attempts to consolidate its rule in the north. Kobani is the small blot of yellow due east from where the Euphrates crosses into Syria.