The terror group ISIS on Monday released another propaganda video featuring British hostage John Cantlie, a photographer who worked for the Sunday Times newspaper before he was kidnapped in 2012 with American James Foley.
In the video, Cantlie, wearing a black dress shirt, indicates that ISIS controls the eastern and southern sectors of the embattled Syrian border town, Kobani.
But U.S. counterterrorism officials told NBC News that while the undated video apparently was shot in Kobani, Cantlie’s assertion that ISIS controls large swathes of the city is false.
“We don’t know when this was recorded, “ said one official, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity. “But to suggest that the ISIL (another acronym for ISIS) is in control of the city now is not accurate.”
The official described the city as “contested,” but said “momentum has clearly shifted” in favor of the anti-ISIS forces over the past two weeks. The official attributed the shift to U.S. and allied bombing as well as the arrival of fresh Kurdish fighters through Turkey to reinforce the Iraqi Kurds, the peshmerga.
The Associated Press, citing the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported on Sunday that 815 people had been killed in 40 days of fighting in the Kobani area. Some 21 civilians were among the dead.
The video of Cantlie is part of a series the ISIS calls "Lend Me Your Ears." The group has killed at least five foreign hostages.
— Miranda Leitsinger and Robert Windrem