Strikes Target Massing ISIS Units Around Kobani

In an unprecedented joint press conference in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki discussed ongoing efforts to eradicate ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Kirby announced an uptick in strikes against ISIS fighters in and around the Syrian city of Kobani, while Psaki confirmed the US is engaging with representatives of Kurdish fighters in the besieged city. Fighters and bombers carried out 14 strikes on Wednesday and Thursday, hitting 19 ISIS buildings, including two command posts, three fighting positions, three sniper positions, a staging location and a heavy machine gun, said Kirby. US and coalition aircraft have increased strikes in Kobani, as ISIS units have attempted to “mass their forces in combat,” he added. With the security of the city still tenuous, Kirby said ISIS advances into the town “appear to have slowed … There are more targets right now, we’ve killed several hundred (ISIS) fighters around Kobani in just these strikes,” he added. Kirby did not entertain speculation on targeting intelligence from Kurdish fighters in the city, but Psaki declared the US had recently met and engaged with representatives of the Democratic Union Party (known as the PYD) this past weekend “outside of the region.” Kurdish fighters affiliated with the PYD are currently engaging ISIS in Kobani. “We have just begun our conversations,” she said, adding engagement will likely continue. (Briefing transcript.)