Turkish, British, and Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria, all key United States allies in the military campaign against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL), have indicated that airstrikes alone will not defeat the jihadist group.
The U.S. Pentagon echoed that sentiment on October 8, saying airstrikes are not sufficient, but in the same vein added that airstrikes against the Islamic State are working.
According to various media reports, Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, said on October 9 that by themselves, airstrikes are incapable of changing the power balance or cleaning “the whole region of ISIS and other terrorists.”
Speaking alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Turkey, the foreign minister added that it was unrealistic for his country alone to deploy ground troops to battle ISIS.
On October 7, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said that U.S.-led airstrikes alone would not solve the ISIS crisis. “I am telling the West – dropping bombs from the air will not provide a solution,” said the Turkish president, Foreign Policy reported. “The terror will not be over … unless there is cooperation for a ground operation,” he added in a televised speech in Turkey.
Kurdish fighters in Syria defending the strategic town of Kobane on the Syria-Turkey border, which is on the verge of falling into the hands of the Islamic State militants, said that airstrikes by themselves are not working.
“Airstrikes alone are really not enough to defeat ISIS in Kobane. They are besieging the city on three sides, and fighter jets simply cannot hit each and every ISIS fighter on the ground,” Idris Nassan, a senior spokesman for the Kurdish fighters in Syria recently told The Guardian.
“Each time a jet approaches, they leave their open positions, they scatter and hide,” he added. “What we really need is ground support. We need heavy weapons and ammunition in order to fend them off and defeat them.”
On September 27, France24 reported that Kurdish security forces in Iraq, known as Peshmerga, have also indicated that the U.S.-led air attacks are insufficient.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has also echoed that assessment. He said it was “never envisaged” that airstrikes “in this battle would turn the tide in the short-term,” BBC reported Thursday.
On October 8, Rear Adm. John Kirby, the chief spokesman at the Pentagon, said that although the air campaign in Syria and Iraq has been effective, “We’ve been saying since the very beginning that airstrikes alone are not going to be sufficient.”
The U.S. has been conducting airstrikes in Iraq since August 8 and in Syria since early September 23.
Including ground support operations in Iraq, the U.S. has spent nearly $1 billion on its military campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.