Islamic State militants on Baghdad doorstep
WASHINGTON: US-led aircraft hammered Islamic State militants with 21 bombing raids near Kobani on Monday and Tuesday amid signs the strikes had “slowed” the group’s advance on the Syrian border town, the American military said.
In one of the heaviest bombardments so far against the militants encircling Kobani, coalition airstrikes “destroyed” two IS staging locations, a building, a truck, two vehicles, three compounds and damaged several other targets, it said.
The terror group came within 25 km of Baghdad’s airport, according to the leader of US military efforts to fight the Islamic State in Iraq.
The United States brought in low-flying attack helicopters to keep the IS at bay, Gen. Martin Dempsey told ABC on Sunday.
“You’re not going to wait until they’re climbing over the wall,” Dempsey said. “Had (IS forces) overrun the Iraqi unit, it was a straight shot to the Baghdad airport.”
The group controls about 80% of the Anbar province, according to Sabah Al-Karhout, president of Anbar Provincial Council.
If the province falls, the extremists would take over an area from the perimeter of Iraq’s capital to Raqqa in Syria, according to Falleh Al-Issawi, the provincial council’s deputy head.
Iraq’s military abandoned a strategically important base in Anbar after heavy fighting with IS militants, provincial security force sources told CNN.
The base outside Hit was one of the Shiite-led government’s few remaining military outposts in the predominantly Sunni province.
“Indications are that airstrikes have slowed IS advances” around Kobani, US Central Command, which is overseeing the air campaign, said in a statement.
“However, the security situation on the ground there remains fluid, with IS attempting to gain territory and Kurdish militia continuing to hold out,” it said.
US fighter jets and bombers took part in the raids along with aircraft from Saudi Arabia, according to Central Command.