Obama rallies coalition commanders against ISIS

2014-10-15 09:09
File: AP

File: AP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - President Barack Obama attempted to rally allied commanders around his emerging strategy to defeat Islamic State jihadists on Tuesday, as the US-led air armada stepped up its raids in Syria.

Coalition jets carried out two dozen strikes to relieve pressure on Kobane, but Obama admitted to deep concern about the Syrian border town's fate and he warned of a long campaign ahead.

In Washington, the president and the US military's top officer General Martin Dempsey met senior commanders from more than 20 Western and Arab allies involved in the campaign.

"One of the things that has emerged from the discussions, both before I came and during my visit here, is that this is going to be a long-term campaign," Obama warned.

"There are not quick fixes involved. We're still at the early stages," he said, explaining that efforts were focused on breaking the siege of Kobane and on halting the ISIS advance in western Iraq.

"As with any military effort, there will be days of progress and there are going to be periods of setback, but our coalition is united behind this long-term effort," he added.

A US military official, summing up the situation, said: "the coalition has strategic momentum although ISIL has tactical momentum."

Islamic State, he added "is an adaptive enemy".

The coalition will also need to adapt "by leveraging all elements of power," he added, stressing that military action alone "will not be decisive".

Obama worried about Kobane

The military meeting, at an airbase outside Washington, came after allied warplanes carried out its latest raids: 21 strikes over two days around Kobane, a Kurdish town on Syria's border with Turkey.

The bombing was designed to halt an ISIS offensive which has seen jihadists push into the town, threatening a massacre under the noses of the Turkish troops and world media watching from the border.

A Syrian exile rights group reported that the latest strikes had at least saved Kobane from "falling entirely into the jihadists' hands," but Obama admitted he was still worried.

"At this point we're also focused on the fighting that is taking place in Iraq's Anbar province, and we're deeply concerned about the situation in and around the Syrian town of Kobane," Obama said.

IS fighters are now in almost complete control of Sunni-majority Anbar, Iraq's largest province, and are closing in on the western outskirts of Baghdad, headquarters of the Shiite-led government.

The talks marked the first time high-ranking officers from so many nations have come together since the US-led coalition was formed in September and which now, on paper, includes about 60 countries.

Cautious ally

Turkey, which has faced a three-decade Kurdish insurgency, has tightened security of its porous Syrian border after the fighting in Kobane sparked the exodus of 200 000 refugees.

But it remains a cautious ally. Turkey's troops have not intervened in Kobane despite being only a few hundred yards from the fighting, and it has yet to allow US jets to mount attacks from its territory.

Turkey further complicated issues Tuesday when officials in Ankara said that Turkish jets bombed Kurdish rebel targets in the southeast of the country in the first such strikes against the separatists since an increasingly fragile 2013 ceasefire.

Kurds say they do not want Turkish troops in Kobane but want Turkey to allow its territory to be used for passing weapons to Kurdish fighters defending the Syrian town, an idea Ankara has so far rejected.

One of the PKK chiefs said on Saturday that all fighters had been called back to Turkey and warned that the peace process was in danger of collapse.

France's President Francois Hollande urged the West's Nato ally to open the border to allow aid to reach Kurdish fighters mounting a desperate defense of the town, which "could fall at any moment".

And US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Ankara had at least allowed the US-led coalition use of "certain facilities" while agreeing to host and train Syrian fighters opposed to the Islamic State group.

Kurdish fighters were trying to push into the eastern sector of the town, under IS control, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based rights group which has a wide network of sources inside Syria.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces are reported to be under intensifying pressure in Anbar province, where the town of Heet fell to the IS advance on Monday, according to Iraqi military sources.

Ammunition drop

Pro-government forces in northern Iraq were under pressure near the strategic Baiji oil refinery, where US aircraft Sunday dropped supplies including food, water and ammunition to Iraqi troops for the first time.

In Baghdad, an Iraqi lawmaker and prominent Shiite militia leader, Ahmed al-Khafaji, was one of at least 21 people killed by a suicide car bomb in the Shiite neighborhood of Kadhimiyah.

The third bombing in Kadhimiyah in four days, Khafaji's killing was immediately claimed by the Islamic State group.

Read more on:    isis  |  barack obama  |  iraq  |  turkey  |  us  |  syria

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.