June 17, 2015 | Quote

Pentagon: IS ‘Cracking’ from Kurdish Advance, US Air Power

Islamic State fighters trying to hold on to a key town along the Syrian border with Turkey may be “cracking” as they try to slow Kurdish fighters and other rebels backed by U.S. air power.

U.S. defense officials Tuesday tried to play down claims by Kurdish YPG officials, who said earlier the town of Tal Abyad had been completely wrested from the grip of the Islamic State group; but, the U.S. officials called the latest push to the outskirts of the town a significant development, which could help alter the course of the fight.

“We are, in this case here, in this location, seeing ISIL forces crack, not interested in fighting, not interested in facing the force that they face,” said Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren.

Defense and intelligence officials say Tal Abyad has long been a critical crossing for the Islamic State, part of a supply route leading to the group’s self-declared capital of Raqqa, to the south.

Equally as important to the Islamic State group, officials say it has been a key crossing point for foreign fighters, who have helped replenish the group’s ranks following ongoing losses, an estimated 10,000 casualties or more, from the U.S. and coalition air campaign.

Instead, the U.S. is looking at a variety of forces, some very capable, but for now mostly acting on their own accord, giving the Islamic State group enough breathing room to persist.

“It’s never a question of can people, can militaries defeat the Islamic State on the battlefield. The question is their national will to do so,” Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said via Skype. “There are militaries that are capable of dealing a blow to the Islamic State, but nobody has the will to deploy them.”

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