While the Syrian border town of Kobani is itself not a strategic location, the number of airstrikes in the area has increased due to the concentration of terrorists there from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Pentagon press secretary said today.
“ISIL has made no secret of the fact that they want that town,” he said, “...And so they have continued to flow fighters to Kobani, meaning there are more targets in and around Kobani,” Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters.
With much of the civilian population of the Kurdish town having fled, coalition forces have been able to increase the number of airstrikes, he explained.
“We believe that the great majority of the population of that town has evacuated and left, and we -- it ranges every day, but it's in the realm of the hundreds or so of people left there,” Kirby said.
Battle damage assessments indicate that coalition airstrikes have killed several hundred ISIL fighters in and around Kobani, he said.
Weather has been a secondary factor contributing to the increased concentration of coalition forces on Syria, the admiral said.
“The weather in central Iraq has not been overly conducive to air operations,” Kirby said. Rather than waiting out the weather, Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the U.S. Central Command commander, has allocated additional assets to the fight in and around Kobani, the admiral said.
“I would also say -- and I think it's important for people to understand -- Kobani could still fall. It could very well still fall,” Kirby noted.
While the coalition airstrikes have made it more difficult for ISIL to sustain itself and to operate, he said, the situation on the ground remains fluid.
“We do know that the Kurdish militias there are fighting hard to keep the town and that we do believe that our airstrikes have helped them in that, that ISIL still threatens Kobani, but that they're holding it,” Kirby said.
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