News / Middle East

    Kerry: Anti-Islamic State Strategy Is 'Evolving'

    • Smoke rises after a U.S.-led airstrike in the Syrian town of Kobani, Oct. 8, 2014.
    • Islamic State fighters stand along a street in the countryside of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, Oct. 7, 2014.
    • An Islamic State fighter gestures from a vehicle in the countryside of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, Oct. 7, 2014.
    • A damaged school building which was used by Kurdish fighters as a base, in al-Aziza, Oct. 7, 2014.
    • An Islamic State fighter sits at a checkpoint once used by Kurdish fighters in al-Jurn village, Oct. 7, 2014.
    • A Kurdish village stands deserted in Kobani after the Islamic State fighters took control of the area, Oct. 7, 2014.
    The Fight for Kobani
    VOA News

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday the strategy of the anti-Islamic State coalition is "evolving," with decisions about the role of Turkey and other countries coming within "hours or days."

    Kurdish militias have repeatedly asked for a larger international intervention since the ultra-radical militants launched an offensive on the Syrian border town of Kobani three weeks ago.

    Neighboring Turkey has yet to act. 

    But Kerry said while the battle for Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, is "horrific ... you have to step back and understand the strategic objective."

    "We are trying to deprive ISIL of the overall ability to wage this, not just in Kobani, but throughout Syria and into Iraq," Kerry said, using another term for Islamic State fighters.

    Pentagon: Airstrikes not enough

    Six coalition airstrikes helped Kurdish fighters push back Islamic State militants in Kobani on Wednesday.

    But the Pentagon said Wednesday that airstrikes alone are not enough to prevent the town from falling to the Islamic State militants.

    Kerry added: "I think you will see, over the next hours and days, the fullness of that strategy evolving, and decisions being made about the Turks and others as to exactly what role they are going to play."

    Kobani region premier Anwar Moslem, however, told VOA's Kurdish news service from Kobani that the past two days of coalition airstrikes brought "positive results."

    Moslem said the raids are giving the local militias a fighting chance at defeating the Islamic State group, and helping protect thousands of civilians still in the area.

    “If coalition forces continue striking like this, they can prevent help from coming to the IS from neighboring towns. YPG is already on the ground fighting and with the help of U.S. and coalitions jets, we can expel ISIS from Kobani and save the lives of these civilians,” Moslem said.

    'Expecting a massacre'

    Qubad Talabani, deputy prime minister for the Kurdistan Regional Government, told CNN on Wednesday that Kurdish forces will not back down in Kobani.

    For that reason, he said, "we're expecting a massacre" if the Islamic State militants seize the city.

    The U.S. envoy tasked with coordinating the anti-Islamic State effort, retired General John Allen, is due to arrive in Turkey on Thursday and Friday for what Kerry said would be "long meetings."

    Kerry spoke alongside British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who said Britain has not ruled out "playing a role in Syria," but that such action would require further parliamentary approval.

    Britain has joined the U.S. in airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq, while other coalition countries have conducted air raids in Syria.

    Also Wednesday, anti-Islamic State forces in Iraq suffered a setback, when the militant group shot down an Iraqi military helicopter near the country's largest oil refinery for the second time in a week, killing the two pilots aboard.

    Iraqi forces have been battling the extremist group for control of the facility in the city of Baiji since early June.

    The U.S. military said coalition airstrikes against Islamic State militants around Iraq the past two days destroyed anti-aircraft artillery pieces, checkpoints and buildings.

    Death toll, refugee surge

    The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the battle for Kobani has killed at least 400 people. The fighting has also forced nearly 200,000 residents and villagers from the area to flee and seek shelter across the frontier in Turkey.

    At least 18 protesters were killed in Turkey when demonstrators took to the streets of the largely Kurdish southeast and in major cities like Istanbul and Ankara to demand the Turkish government protect Kobani.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday Kobani may soon fall without support from outside ground troops. Turkey's parliament authorized the use of force against the Islamic State group, but the Turkish military has not intervened.

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    Comment Sorting
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    by: meanbill from: USA
    October 09, 2014 6:09 PM
    "America's National Strategy for Combating Terrorism" or (ANSCT), is from the 2003 Homeland Security playbook, [and now], presented by the embattled US President Obama as [his] plan to "degrade and ultimately defeat" the (ISIL) beheader army, [and], it's the exact same strategic plan to combat terrorists used since 2003, [the same old plan], that hasn't "degraded or defeated" any terrorists of any kind, since it's inception in 2003.... [LOOK IT UP?].... [the Wise Man thinks]. America needs another updated plan for the greatest military in the history of the world?]...... REALLY?

    by: mike from: nyc
    October 08, 2014 9:34 PM
    Like the statements coming out of the Pentagon,Kerry's explanation is incoherent.If Kobane falls ISIS will have unfettered control of a key corridor in N. Syria and control of the Euphrates all the way into the heart of Iraq.Those are not "strategically important"?
    And what better way to "degrade" ISIS than to send in the Apaches and lay waste to all those heavy weapons and fighters moving in that open,depopulated terrain that looks exactly like the USMC training base at 29 Palms,CA? In reality there's an ugly deal in the works between the US and Erdogan.They're treating international pressure to save Kobani like a hot potato thrown back and forth via accussing each other of inaction.In reality they're hoping ISIS will wipe out the Kurds,THEN the Turkish army will flatten Kobani,move in,take control and create the buffer zone Tayyip wants.Obama will claim a diplomatic victory as Turks become "boots on the ground" and both can keep klinging to their Assad fetish.

    by: KYJurisDoctor from: USA
    October 08, 2014 8:46 PM
    with, john kerry?!

    by: CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON from: UK
    October 08, 2014 8:13 PM
    The number of American and British tourists who were murdered and injured by Kurd terrorist bombers in Turkey a few years ago is probably greater than the number of British and American charity and media workers murdered and injured by ISIL up to date.
    Perhaps Turkey is taking a balanced approach and is waiting for more British and Americans to die at the hands of ISIL before it sides with the Kurds who of course murdered and injured their own people too.

    by: Allah from: malaysia
    October 08, 2014 7:27 PM
    Get rid of Turkey from NATO because Turkey has been supporting Islamic Mohammedan Jihadist terrorists as well as ISIL since war started in Syria

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    October 08, 2014 2:36 PM
    Kerry says anti islamic state strategy is evolving. That is true. I think it will be fully evolved, that is, come full cycle when Syria and its Kurdish cities have all fallen to the militant group. It will be fully evolved when all the Christians have either been killed or driven away from the region, after all it is the voice of one who said to hell with his Christian faith that we're listening to. Kerry and is coalition strategy will be in preparation until ISIS has won all the territories it wants and settles down. It may be even when they have taken their seat at the UN and apply for NATO membership (after all it’s sponsored by Turkey, why won’t Turkey also sponsor it to EU and NATO membership) that he will complete his preparation to destroy it. You know, his boss does not want war, and must do everything possible to see that he does not go to war with his brothers in the faith until his successors take over. And it is working for him. Kudos to Barrack Hussein Obama and his John Kerry. I only hope that the world will remain reparable in the shape they will leave it for their successors.

    by: Lani Destacamento
    October 08, 2014 2:32 PM
    I agree with America being involved in this but I say if we are going to be involved, we might as well go all in. No hesitance. It costs more money and more lives doing a half-hearted war. Bomb the heck out of ISIS.

    by: 2cents from: U.S.
    October 08, 2014 2:22 PM
    I may be wrong here, but i think our strategy here is to get turkey to be more active in this war. We could easily deploy an AC-130 along with some A10's and crush ISIL's infantry with minimum to moderate collateral casualties, but if we do that it will basically tell Turkey "don't worry about it, we will take care of everything". This might gain the hearts and minds of the Kurds, but in a long term strategy this would not help us gain the significant number of ground troops needed to fight ISIS throughout Syria. Turkish troops are our best bet for ground troops until The Free Syrian army and other moderate rebels can be effectively trained and deployed. I think this is shaping up to be a much larger campaign against Assad, and the white houses long game starts with Turkey.

    by: Bruce Lightfoot from: Troy
    October 08, 2014 2:15 PM
    WHY do so many media outlets, including VOA, continue to honor these terrorists with the name Islamic State? As the UN Secretary- General said: They should be known as the UN-Islamic Non-State for that is much closer to the truth! Don't try for an acronym, use the full force of the words to remind everyone they act truly UN-Islamic and they are a NON-State. There is no confusion as to which group of butchers you are referring to when you talk about the Un-Islamic Non-State.

    by: Paul from: Be
    October 08, 2014 2:09 PM
    If Kobani falls, by its inaction Turkey will be complicit in the resulting massacre. Of course, the slaughter of Kurds is in the strategic interest of Turkey, just like it was with the Armenians.
    In Response

    by: Pill from: Be?
    October 09, 2014 5:24 PM
    Lovely guilt by silence? If thousands of africans are killed daily, you're guilty of that then? lol.
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