Warplanes allegedly sent by the U.S.-led coalition early Tuesday helped slow the shelling of a Syrian border town by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Turkish official said. But airstrikes alone will likely not be enough to overcome the ISIS forces, analysts tell NBC News.
Journalists reportedly heard the sound of jet engines and saw large plumes of smoke arise from Kobani, the Associated Press reported Tuesday morning. The fighter jets are thought to belong to the United States and its allies who are attempting to strike positions held by ISIS in the area. The militants on Monday took over the eastern part of Kobani, where they have been battling Kurdish forces for control.
In recent weeks, the United States and its allies have launched limited airstrikes near Kobani to help Kurdish forces trying to maintain control. If confirmed, the strikes near Kobani suggest that U.S. efforts to “degrade and destroy” ISIS are underway. But the U.S. must intensify those strikes if it hopes to stave off a “slaughter” of “tens of thousands” in the city, foreign affairs expert David Phillips told NBC News.
Despite the strikes Tuesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for greater cooperation with the Syrian opposition because he said the coalition air campaign won’t be sufficient enough to halt future advances by ISIS. Turkey, which is among the more than 40 nations that have joined the international coalition, is the first country to authorize the deployment of ground troops.
ISIS has taken control of other large areas of Syria and northern Iraq. U.S.-led military attacks against the group continue, after weeks of launches that initially began last month with action from the United States and five allied Arab nations. Since the first strikes, the coalition has attacked ISIS-controlled oil refineries, vehicles, weapon caches, and troop positions.
The militant group has also inspired a rash of alleged terrorist plots around the world, prompting numerous law enforcement operations to counter them. On Tuesday, British police in London arrested four men, who are accused of plotting a terror attack. The detainment searches were part of an ongoing investigation into Islamic-related terrorism, according to police.
Over the weekend, FBI agents arrested a 19-year-old U.S. citizen from Chicago for attempting to travel to Turkey allegedly to join ISIS. Mohammed Hamzah Khan now faces charges of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Last week, ISIS militants executed British aid worker Alan Henning, and threatened the life of Peter Kassig, a 26-year-old U.S. citizen who is being held captive. The group also beheaded three other Westerners, American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines. A French tourist was similarly killed in September by an Algerian terrorist group aligned with ISIS.