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U.S., European Leaders To Discuss Islamic State Militants

Smoke rises from a village on the outskirts of the Syrian town of Kobani, which has been besieged by IS militants for weeks.

U.S. President Barack Obama is to hold a videoconference with the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy to discuss pressing international issues, including combating Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq.

Obama expressed deep concern on October 14 about the siege of the Syrian border town of Kobani by IS fighters and about the extremist group's push in Iraq's western Anbar Province.

Addressing a meeting of foreign defense officials at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, Obama said, "Coalition air strikes will continue in both of these areas."

He said a total of some 60 countries have joined the U.S.-led coalition against IS, but predicted a "long-term campaign" against the extremist group.

Obama reiterated that the U.S. and allied goal is to destroy IS so it no longer represents a threat in the region or to the world.

"As with any military effort, there will be days of progress and there are going to be periods of setback," he cautioned.

The anti-IS coalition has stepped up air strikes in and around the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani, with the U.S. military saying it carried out 18 strikes on October 14-15.

IS fighters are said to control one-third of the town, which is bordered by Turkey on the north and surrounded by militants on the south, east, and west.

U.S. warplanes also carried out five air raids in Iraq on October 14-15 amid reports that IS fighters were closing on Al-Amiriyah.

The town, located 40 kilometers from the capital, Baghdad, is one of the last still controlled by government forces in the western province of Anbar.

Reports from the provincial capital, Ramadi, said security forces and tribesmen beat back an hours-long attack by IS militants early on October 15.

Ramadi is located 100 kilometers from Baghdad.

The U.S.-led aerial campaign against Islamic State started in Iraq in August, and the coalition has been carrying out air strikes in support of Kurdish forces in Kobani for two weeks.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and the BBC
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