On Wednesday President Obama met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other high level military commanders at the Pentagon to discuss the spread of Ebola and the battle against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
Nearby Secretary of State John Kerry met with U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond from the Treaty Room of the State Department as the two leaders met to form a stronger partnership and confront the rise of Islamic State in the Middle East after several kidnapped journalists from the U.S. and U.K. were beheaded in August and filmed on released video that went viral.
Great Britain’s Royal Air Force has been conducting airstrikes on ISIL positions in Iraq after offering some of the strongest humanitarian support in the divided country.
Although Great Britain has only carried out humanitarian and military campaigns in Iraq thus far, Foreign Secretary Hammond admitted on Wednesday that there is a possibility Great Britain could extend their campaigns to Syria in the future.
“We absolutely have not ruled out playing a role in Syria” Secretary Hammond told reporters during a press conference before stating that it will require further parliamentary approval in London.
Secretary Hammond affirmed the need for the international community to confront the atrocities committed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria while acknowledging that defeating Islamic State will require diplomatic and political strategies to help stabilize the troubled region.
“It is clear that tackling ISIL requires a strong military response from the international community, but that has to be combined with a clear diplomatic plan to support the new Iraqi Government’s inclusive program; to hamper ISIL’s access to funds, fighters, and resources; and a political strategy to combat the poisonous ideology that underpins ISIL; and counter those trying to spread sectarian violence and hatred across the region and beyond.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters late on Wednesday that ISIL, an acronym for Islamic State, doesn’t own Kobani, a largely Kurdish city in northern Syria, but the Pentagon believes that some ISIL militants are in the border city that carries strategic importance and has garnered international attention in recent days as it shows Islamic State’s push to control a larger urban center and expand their sphere of influence.
Secretary Kirby seemed aware of the limited effectiveness that U.S. airpower alone can make in Kobani as well-equipped Islamic State militants continue to pound away at the city.
“I think we all understand that that’s a possibility, that Kobani could be taken. We recognize that. We’re doing everything we can from the air to try to halt the momentum of ISIL against that town, but that airpower is not going to be alone enough to save that — that city” Kirby said.
Secretary Kirby spoke about the need to work with competent indigenous ground forces that can retake territory from Islamic State militants and work with local tribes.
“We believe– and this is a lesson we’ve learned from 13 years of war — that the best counterweight to groups like this on the ground are local, indigenous forces. People that know the ground, know the culture, know the tribes, they know the area” Kirby added.
Reuters reported late on Wednesday that outgunned defenders in Kobani admitted that Islamic State militants had advanced into two districts of Kobani late on Wednesday.