Photos depicting the ongoing battle against the Islamic State are hard to come by, with many of the most prominent images often taken by the militants themselves. Since the world's focus shifted to the northern Syrian city of Kobane, a Kurdish haven located right next to the Turkish border, that has changed. There has been no shortage of dramatic footage, filmed from relative safety across the border in Turkey.
New satellite images -- released by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and shot by Digital Globe -- offer another perspective. The pictures show from bird's eye view how Kobane has turned into a war zone. The first set of pictures was shot Sept. 6, a few weeks before the fighting in the city reached international front pages. The second set of images was taken last Wednesday, Oct. 15.
On their flight, Syrians abandoned their cars at a border crossing
This is one of the most striking photo comparisons, although it does not show any actual destruction. Syrian refugees who fled the battle zone left their cars on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey.
Many Syrian refugees now live in this camp nearby
These satellite images depict a refugee camp, built within weeks on the Turkish side of the border. While fighting continues only a few kilometers away from the camp, many refugees have decided to travel farther. Some of the estimated 200,000 residents of Kobane and surrounding villages who have fled said they didn't feel welcome in Turkey and have headed to the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq. Many of them were forced to leave without being able to take their belongings across the Turkish border.
"We left everything, apart from this,” a young woman told France 24 television, pointing at rolls of bedding and some shopping bags. "We don't have anything. We just ran.”
If Kobane's citizens were able to return, they would find a largely destroyed city
Days of fighting have left many of the city's buildings destroyed. Houses have turned into craters. The United Nations does not specify whether the damage visible in the pictures was caused by the Islamic State militants, Kurdish fighters or airstrikes conducted by the U.S.-led alliance against the Islamic State.
The signs of fighting are spread all over the city
The next picture -- for which the United Nations did not provide a comparison to a previously taken satellite image -- shows details of the street fights between Islamic State militants and Kurdish fighters. A roadblock has been set up, and "vehicle traffic is almost entirely absent throughout the town," according to the U.N. Institute for Training and Research.
Another visual comparison focuses on a roadblock that is supposed to bar access to the city. The United Nations does not specify to which faction of fighters the blockade belongs.
The next image shows a fortified fighting position inside the city:
Although the Kurds announced last week that they had forced the Islamic State militants to retreat from some areas of the city, they urged the alliance to provide them with new weapons and ammunition.
On Sunday, the United States followed those demands by airdropping supplies, and Turkey agreed Monday to allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross the border, enabling them to support the Syrian Kurds who are already fighting the Islamic State in Kobane.