In September 2014, Islamic State group fighters captured about 300 Kurdish villages near Kobani, Syria, and then thrust into the town itself, occupying almost half of it and sending tens of thousands of refugees fleeing into Turkey. Unsure if Kobani would hold, U.S. officials including Secretary of State John Kerry spent weeks saying the town wasn't a U.S. priority. But, a small makeshift coalition of Kurdish Peshmerga forces from Iraq, Kobani Kurds (including Kurdish women fighters) and combatants from the Free Syrian Army refused to give in to the Islamic State militants. Under a steady pounding from U.S. – led air power and the tenacity of the Kobani defenders, IS was forced to retreat in January 2015, leaving over 1,000 of its best fighters dead. Follow the weeks of fighting through the photos and stories of Associated Press journalists, as Kobani became proof that the Islamic State group can be defeated.