Hagel expects long-term battle against Islamic State

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US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Saturday that the besieged Syrian town of Kobani was a serious problem but added that US air strikes have achieved some progress in holding off Islamic State fighters.

Kurdish forces defending Kobani have urged the US-led coalition to intensify air raids against Islamic State fighters who tightened their grip on Kobani which lies along Turkey’s borders with Syria.

Speaking at a news conference in Santiago, Chile, Hagel said: “We are doing what we can do through our air strikes to help drive back ISIL (Islamic State). In fact, there has been some progress made in that area.”

“It is a very difficult problem,” Hagel said, referring to Kobani.

Hagel affirmed that the battle against Islamic State militants who have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, was a long-term fight.

“It is a long-term effort. This is difficult. It is complicated. It’s going to require many factors. And we are working now (with) coalition partners,” he maintained.

Asked about the situation in Iraq, Hagel said Iraqi security forces are in total control of Baghdad and are reinforcing their positions there.

“We continue to help them with air strikes, with our assistance and advisers,” he said.

Meanwhile, IS militants released footage of themselves fighting in the streets of Kobani.

The footage, which could not be verified, showed masked men walking through deserted streets firing machine guns and rocket launchers at targets not in view of the cameras.