Obama rues er­ror in IS es­ti­ma­tion

Viet Nam News - - Front Page -

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ad­mit­ted that the United States un­der­es­ti­mated the threat posed by Is­lamic State fight­ers in Syria, as the US-led coali­tion pressed its air cam­paign against the ji­hadists yes­ter­day.

Obama said Wash­ing­ton had also over­es­ti­mated the ef­fec­tive­ness of the se­cu­rity forces in neigh­bour­ing Iraq, which it had trained and sup­plied but which col­lapsed across much of the Sunni Arab heart­land north and west of Bagh­dad in the face of a light­ning of­fen­sive led by IS in June.

As the US-led air cam­paign in Syria en­tered its sev­enth day, coali­tion strikes hit IS tar­gets dur­ing the night, both in its Raqa prov­ince strong­hold and in Aleppo prov­ince fur­ther west, a mon­i­tor­ing group said.

In neigh­bour­ing Iraq, US-led strikes de­stroyed two IS check­points near in­sur­gent-held Fal­lu­jah on Sun­day, the Pen­tagon said, as Iraqi troops fought off a ji­hadist as­sault on a strate­gic Euphrates Val­ley town down­stream.

Speak­ing to CBS News, Obama ad­mit­ted his ad­min­is­tra­tion had un­der­es­ti­mated the op­por­tu­nity that the three-anda-half year-old Syr­ian civil war would pro­vide for ji­hadist mil­i­tants to re­group and stage a sud­den come­back.

He said that for­mer al-Qaeda fight­ers driven from Iraq by US forces in the years be­fore their with­drawal in 2011 with the support of Sunni Arab tribes had been able to re­group in Syria to form the even more dan­ger­ous IS.

Asked whether Wash­ing­ton has also over­es­ti­mated the abil­ity or will of Iraq’s US-trained mil­i­tary to fight the ji­hadists on its own, Obama said “That’s true. That’s ab­so­lutely true.”

Mean­while Is­lamic State group fight­ers closed in yes­ter­day to within only a few kilo­me­tres of a key Kur­dish town on Syria’s bor­der with Turkey, de­spite con­tin­ued air strikes by the US-led coali­tion.

NATO mem­ber Turkey’s gov­ern­ment mean­while said it would ask par­lia­ment to de­bate join­ing the coali­tion against the ji­hadists op­er­at­ing on the coun­try’s doorstep from as early as Thurs­day.

The al­liance car­ried out fresh raids against IS po­si­tions in Syria overnight, but the ji­hadists still man­aged to ad­vance within 5km of the strate­gic Syr­ian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane to the Kurds, the Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights said.

The Bri­tain-based mon­i­tor­ing group said it was the clos­est the mil­i­tants had come to the town since they be­gan ad­vanc­ing to­ward it nearly two weeks ago.

The ji­hadists fired at least 15 rock­ets at the town cen­tre, killing at least one per­son, as they ad­vanced, the Ob­ser­va­tory said, adding that other rock­ets hit the Syr­ian-Turk­ish bor­der.

In Ankara, par­lia­men­tary speaker Cemil Cicek was quoted by NTV tele­vi­sion as say­ing mo­tions for dis­cus­sions on Turkey join­ing the coali­tion could land with law­mak­ers to­day.

Prime Min­is­ter Ah­met Davu­to­glu said the mo­tions would be de­bated on Thurs­day.

Turkey had re­fused to join the coali­tion while dozens of its cit­i­zens –in­clud­ing diplo­mats and chil­dren – were be­ing held by IS after be­ing ab­ducted in the north­ern Iraqi city of Mo­sul.

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