John Cantlie: Islamic State hostage in Kobane video

  • Published
Media caption,

The BBC's Frank Gardner: "This highly produced hostage video has a new twist"

British hostage John Cantlie has appeared in a new Islamic State (IS) video shot in the war-torn Syrian town of Kobane.

In an apparently scripted video, Mr Cantlie says the battle for the town on the Turkish border "is nearly over" and the militants are "mopping up now".

He refers to events of the past two weeks, including a US air drop of weapons for Syrian Kurd fighters.

Kobane has witnessed intense fighting between Kurdish militias and IS.

It is the latest in a series of videos featuring the 43-year-old journalist, who was seized in late 2012.

'Nasty and tough'

The clip, which lasts for five minutes and 32 seconds, also features footage that it is claimed was shot by an Islamic State drone.

In the video, Mr Cantlie says: "Now the battle for Kobane is coming to an end. The mujahideen are just mopping up now, street to street, and building to building.

"You can occasionally hear erratic gunfire in the background as a result of those operations.

"But contrary to what the Western media would have you believe, it is not an all-out battle here now. It is nearly over. As you can hear, it is very quiet, just the occasional gunfire."

Image caption,
Mr Cantlie, in an apparently scripted message, says the fight for Kobane "is coming to an end"

He adds: "Urban warfare is as about as nasty and tough as it gets, and it's something of a speciality of the mujahideen."

Kobane has been been under assault from IS for weeks.

Last Monday, militants launched an offensive "on all fronts" against Kurdish fighters, activists said.

The release of the video comes after the death of Mr Cantlie's father Paul, 80, who had recorded a video message from his hospital bed urging IS to release his son.


Jessica Cantlie, John Cantlie's sister, has also appealed for ''direct contact" with the militants.

Last week, another IS video emerged in which Mr Cantlie said prisoners of the militant group who had tried to escape had been punished with waterboarding.

He read another apparently scripted message that criticised the UK and US stance on hostage negotiations.

A Foreign Office spokesman said on Monday: "We are aware of a further video and we are analysing its contents."

BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Bridget Kendall said the latest video was "very different" from previous footage of Mr Cantlie because he is shown walking outside "almost as though he is a war reporter for the so-called Islamic State extremists."

The idea that the battle for Kobane is almost over "seems to be the main propaganda message of this video," our correspondent added.

Sources in the Kurdish People's Protection Unit told the BBC that it appeared the video was shot at the School of Industry in eastern Kobane.

They also confirmed IS had its own drones.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
There has been fierce fighting in Kobane between Kurds and IS militants

Mr Cantlie, an experienced journalist and photographer, has been held captive in Syria twice.

He was kidnapped first in July 2012, but escaped with help from the Free Syrian Army.

He was then kidnapped for a second time when he returned to Syria towards the end of 2012.

Islamic State - also known as Isis or Isil - has taken control of large areas of Syria and Iraq.

Since August, IS has filmed and posted online the deaths of four Western hostages.

They were US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines and Alan Henning, a taxi driver from Salford, who was a volunteer on an aid mission to Syria.