U.S. Warns Air Power Cannot Save Syrian Town from ISإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
President Barack Obama conferred with commanders Wednesday on the "difficult" fight against Islamic State jihadists as the U.S. military warned air power alone could not prevent the group from seizing a key Syrian border town.
After a meeting with top brass at the Pentagon, Obama said there would be no easy victory against the IS group but said a growing international coalition was resolved to confront the Sunni extremists rampaging in Iraq and Syria.
"Our strikes continue, alongside our partners. It remains a difficult mission," Obama, flanked by the country's most senior military officers, told reporters.
"As I've indicated from the start, this is not something that is going to be solved overnight."
- Broad consensus -
Obama said there was "a broad-based consensus not just in the region but among nations of the world that ISIL (IS) is a threat to world peace, security and order, that their barbaric behavior has to be dealt with."
A Pentagon spokesman earlier offered a sober battlefield assessment, saying US air power on its own could not rescue the town of Kobane from an offensive by the IS jihadists in northern Syria.
U.S.-led aircraft were hitting the IS group at every opportunity but without a competent force on the ground to work with, there were limits to what could be accomplished by bombing from the air, spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.
"Air strikes alone are not going to do this, not going to fix this, not going to save the town of Kobane," Kirby said.
"We know that. And we've been saying that over and over again."
Ultimately, "capable" ground forces -- rebel fighters in Syria and Iraqi government troops -- would have to defeat the IS group, but that would take time, he said.
Kirby said that "we don't have a willing, capable, effective partner on the ground inside Syria right now. It's just a fact."
Other towns could also fall to the IS group until local ground forces could find their footing, he added.
The military's Central Command said American-led forces carried out 14 coalition strikes on Wednesday and 19 bombing raids near the town since Tuesday, in an attempt to help Kurdish militia who have fought a desperate battle to hold off the IS militants.
"Indications are that Kurdish militia there continue to control most of the city and are holding out against ISIL," Central Command said in a statement late Wednesday.
The wording was unprecedented for Central Command which until now has provided terse summaries of air strikes without offering assessments of particular battles or indicated where the IS group may be gaining or losing.
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said tracking the militants presented a challenge.
"We have been striking when we can," Dempsey told ABC News in an interview.
IS fighters are "a learning enemy and they know how to maneuver and how to use populations and concealment," the general said.
"They're becoming more savvy with the use of electronic devices," he said.
- Trying to halt IS momentum -
Washington's air campaign, launched in Iraq on August 8 and extended into Syria on September 23, was designed to halt the advance of the IS group to buy time to build up "moderate" rebel forces in Syria and Baghdad government and Kurdish troops in Iraq.
But despite the bombing raids, the IS jihadists have continued to gain ground in both countries, including around the key town of Kobane near the Turkish border.
Kobane has become the center of international attention with Kurdish leaders issuing desperate appeals while the fighting has sent some 200,000 people flooding across the border into Turkey.
The latest strikes near Kobane destroyed five armed vehicles, an IS supply depot, a command center, a logistics compound, and eight occupied barracks, Central Command said.
Since September 27, U.S.-led aircraft have conducted 28 strikes near Kobane, according to figures from Central Command.
Another air raid southwest of Raqa destroyed four armed vehicles and damaged two more, Central Command said late Wednesday
U.S. fighter jets and other aircraft kept up bombing runs in Iraq, with one attack northwest of Ramadi, one in Mosul and another raid south of Kirkuk, it added.
All aircraft "exited the strike areas safely," it said.