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Obama predicts long-term campaign against IS

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-10-15 17:28

DAMASCUS/WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama Tuesday acknowledged the fight against the Islamic State (IS) is "a long-term campaign" after the recent bombing raids against the group failed to produce significant progress on the battleground.

"This is going to be a long-term campaign; there are no quick fixes involved," Obama said after a meeting with coalition military leaders at Joint Base Andrews in the US state of Maryland.

There are "going to be periods of progress and setbacks," he added.

In the past two days, the coalition has conducted 21 attacks on the militants near the Syrian border town of Kobane, where Kurdish fighters are struggling to repel an onslaught by the Islamist group.

Despite the allied firepower, IS forces have reportedly captured a military training camp in western Iraq and lobbed bombs at Baghdad suburbs, sparking concerns that the Iraqi military is not up to the fight.

The militants now control nearly half of Kobane and seized most of Iraq's largest province Anbar.

"What we're also fighting is ideological," Obama said, appealing that the United States and the rest of the 60 nations participating in the effort against IS be "united in our goal".

But the White House maintained that despite some of the troubling news, the president's plan against IS was "succeeding".

"We're in the early days of the execution of that strategy," said press secretary Josh Earnest during a White House press briefing on Tuesday. "But certainly the early evidence indicates that this strategy is succeeding."

Earnest pointed out that US humanitarian missions successfully protected Iraqi minorities under siege from IS, and had also driven the group from a pair of crucial dams.

But he also conceded that without ground forces, the United States would not be able to prevent all IS advances.

"I don't think anybody has sought to leave you or anyone else with the impression that these kinds of airstrikes were going to dramatically reverse the situation on the battlefield overnight. They won't. We've been pretty candid about the fact that this is a longer-term proposition," Earnest said.

The plight of the Syrian Kurds in Kobane has also provoked riots inside among Turkey's 15 million Kurds last week in which at least 35 people were killed.

The Kurds were angry over their government's refusal to help the coalition to fight against the IS, while Ankara is wary of the Syrian Kurds and their Kurdish militia, which it believes is affiliated with the Kurdish PKK movement in southeast Turkey that has waged a long and bloody insurgency against the Turkish state

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

Over the three-year civil war in Syria, about 1.2 million refugees have flown into Turkey, including 200,000 Kurds who fled the area around Kobane in recent weeks.

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