WASHINGTON: US-led air strikes on a Syrian border town killed “several hundred” Islamic State fighters but it may still fall, officials warned Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) acknowledging significant jihadist gains in Iraq and Syria.
While Iraqi troops prevented the jihadists from seizing a lynchpin provincial capital near Baghdad, a senior US envoy admitted IS forces have scored important advances in Iraq,
John Allen, a retired four-star general and US envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, said it would take time to build up local forces to defeat them there and in Syria.
In the border town of Kobane, Kurdish defenders backed by a flurry of US-led air strikes were reported to have stopped IS fighters from gaining ground and even recaptured some positions.
US Central Command said American aircraft carried out 18 raids near Kobane over two days, hitting 16 IS-occupied buildings.
In Iraq, government forces beat back an hours-long jihadist attack on Ramadi, capital of Anbar province.
But Allen warned that the group has made “substantial gains” and maintained the “tactical momentum.”
President Barack Obama told military chiefs from more than 20 allies that they are facing a “long-term campaign” — dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve on Wednesday — against IS.
“There are not quick fixes involved. We’re still at the early stages,” Obama said after the talks in Washington.
Obama has expressed special concern for Kobane, which has become a symbolic battleground in the fight against IS, and about halting the IS advance in Iraq’s western Anbar province.