US air strikes halt Kobani invasion

Published: Thursday 9th October 2014 by The News Editor

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US and coalition air strikes have forced some Islamic State (IS) militants out of the Syrian border town of Kobani, but it may yet fall to the extremists because air power alone cannot prevent it, the Pentagon has said.

“Kobani could be taken. We recognise that,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

“We’re doing everything we can from the air to try to halt the momentum of Isil against that town,” he added, using an acronym for IS. “Air power is not going to be alone enough to save that city.”

Rear Adm Kirby said the Pentagon was not planning to ask President Barack Obama to commit ground forces to the fight inside Syria.

The US and partner countries, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have been bombing IS targets in Syria under Mr Obama’s order to degrade and destroy the group. But the administration has warned that the going will be slow.

“We all need to prepare ourselves for the reality that other towns and villages – and perhaps Kobani – will be taken by Isil,” Rear Adm Kirby said, adding that the key to eventually defeating the militants was to train and enable indigenous ground forces.

“We don’t have a force inside Syria that we can co-operate with and work with,” he said. That is why the administration is planning to train and arm 5,000 moderate opposition Syrian fighters at sites elsewhere in the Middle East and then insert them back into Syria to take on IS forces.

There were air strikes at six locations around Kobani on Tuesday, and others earlier this week. Rear Adm Kirby said there were mixed reports about how many militants pulled back from the town under pressure from the air.

The US Central Command said last night it appeared that Kurdish militia continued to control most of the city and were holding out against the militants.

Mr Obama was at the Pentagon yesterday to consult military leaders on progress in the campaign to counter IS and he will host a meeting next Tuesday at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland with his counterparts from about 20 of the countries that have joined the US in combating IS.

:: Australia has launched its first air strike against an IS target in Iraq since the government committed its air force to combat missions.

The Australian Defence Force did not say what type of target had been attacked or where in northern Iraq it was.

“Two bombs were dropped from an F/A-18F Super Hornet on to an Isil facility” overnight, it said. “All aircraft exited the target area safely and returned to base.”

Australia has six Super Hornets based in the United Arab Emirates. A 200-strong ground force including special forces are waiting for legal guarantees from the Iraqi government before they enter the country to advise and assist Iraqi security forces. The Australian troops will not take part in combat.

Published: Thursday 9th October 2014 by The News Editor

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