The end appears very near in Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) in northern Syria as ISIS closes in on the city from three sides. For the past two weeks, Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG (the military arm of the Democratic Union Party), have resisted an intense offensive by ISIS militants there. ISIS has now advanced to within a half-mile of this strategic city, according to the Kurdish commander defending Kobani, who expects “general killing, massacres and destruction” if the city falls. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least sixty shells hit Kobani on Friday, pounding a city that had previously been a safe haven for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing fighting in other parts of Syria, and persistent shelling hit the city through the weekend. According to the latest reports, ISIS has taken the strategic heights just west of the city and raised their flag on a building on the outskirts of town. If Kobani falls, it will be both a human tragedy and a strategic setback—and a key part of a long-term solution to the Syrian conflict is likely to die with the city.This article was originally published in The National Interest.