Keane: ISIS Will ‘Push the Caliphate Out to the Border as Much as They Possibly Can’

‘We have given ISIS lots of opportunities ... they have been at this for some time’

KEANE: "No, they had -- to date they had 18 air strikes in this area up until yesterday, and I think 5 or 6 today. But we got into this a little late and with not enough obviously airstrikes to make true difference. The fact of the matters is we were attacking other targets. We began in Syria on 23 September. Many of us wanted us to begin after Mosul fell. That was months ago. So we have given ISIS lots of opportunities. They began their attacks in [indecipherable] on Kobani on 16th of September, but they began prep it truth to be known after Mosul fell. So they have been at this for some time. And the airstrikes have not been able to stop them from advancing. Now they are in the villages and the neighborhoods inside Kobani and it is very difficult, without a partner on the ground, Bill, to be able to get at those forces when they are next to population centers as they are now."

HEMMER: "Are you prepared to say our strategy has failed so far? And if so, is the Commander-in-Chief willing and ready to adapt?"

KEANE: "I hope that this will force the White House the National Security team to  reassess and to take the military's advice, which is, let’s use the airstrikes in coordination with troops on the ground to facilitate the effective use of those airstrikes against ISIS. ISIS obviously has been adapting to this enemy as we suspected it would -- the enemy being airstrikes on them. But none the less, we can still be effective against them with air power. At the end of the day, as we have said time and time again, we’ll not rout them out until we have ground forces to be able to do that and partners on the ground who are effective at doing that. That is what we need."

HEMMER: "Just to drive that point. You are saying what Turkey wants is the U.S. to commit ground troops?"

KEANE: "Well, listen, Turkey is a culprit here as much as an ally. They permitted the foreign fighters to pass through their country into Syria, they are permitting the black market oil to pass through their country. The fact of the matter is, despite the parliament who approved Turkish military to go in into Syria and also now bases to be used by the coalition, they are sitting there watching the destruction taking place right before their eyes. Their excuse is Assad first, ISIS second. We don’t move until the U.S. puts ground forces on the ground. Then we will move. That is what Turkey is saying. We have an impasse with them. Obviously, U.S.  is very frustrated with Turkey’s position here."

HEMMER: "No question."

 

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