The northern Syrian city of Kobani, which borders on Turkey, could fall to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or ISIS terrorists, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told Martha Raddatz, the network’s chief global affairs correspondent, that despite continued U.S.-led airstrikes to keep ISIL forces at bay, he is concerned the key Kurdish city could fall into ISIL jihadists’ hands.
“I am fearful that Kobani will fall,” Dempsey said, adding that he has “no doubt” ISIL will conduct horrific atrocities if they have the opportunity to do so.
ISIL is putting pressure on the city’s outskirts, and into the city itself, the chairman said. ISIL forces are becoming more adept with the use of electronic devices, he added, and are making themselves harder to find and identify.
“They don’t fly flags and move around in large convoys the way they did. … They don’t establish headquarters that are visible or identifiable,” he said.
Dempsey said he spoke to his Turkish counterpart a couple of days ago about the conditions in Kobani, and he noted that Turkey has forces on the border that will prevent ISIL from making any incursions into their country.
“But, of course, ISIL is smart enough not to do that,” the general added.
ISIL forces have changed tactics since the United States began airstrikes, the chairman acknowledged, making targets harder to find and more difficult to hit.
“They know how to maneuver and how to use populations and concealment, so when we get a target, we’ll take it,” he said.
ISIL fighters have been trying to overtake Baghdad since they invaded Iraq, Dempsey said, and because the jihadist army is blending into parts of the Sunni population that was disenfranchised under former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, the Iraqi capital could come under indirect fire.
While President Barack Obama has vowed to the American people that no U.S. boots will be on the ground in the fight against ISIL, the chairman said he doesn’t rule out the possibility, as he recently testified on Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke Sunday with Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz in a phone call that focused on the regional threat posed by ISIL and the security situation in both Iraq and Syria, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
The secretary also expressed his gratitude for Turkey’s willingness to host a joint U.S. Central Command-European Command planning team next week, Kirby added, as the U.S. military works closely with Turkey to further develop a training regimen.
“Both leaders stressed the need to continue taking a comprehensive, strategic approach to the threat posed by ISIL and other extremist groups,” the admiral said. “Both men also agreed that the Assad regime has, through its own brutality, fostered the current crisis and has long ago surrendered any legitimacy to govern in Syria.”
Hagel and Yilmaz agreed to continue close, sustained consultations, Kirby said.
Courtesy: U.S. Department of Defense