President Obama met Tuesday evening with his national security team amid reports that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was advancing toward toward the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani on the border between Turkey and Syria.
The president and his top foreign policy aides met at the White House on Tuesday "to discuss our comprehensive strategy to counter the threat posed by [ISIS]," the administration said in a statement.
The meeting came as CNN reported that Turkish soldiers and tanks were massing at the border amid concerns about a flood of refugees entering the country ahead of advancing ISIS fighters. Sources told the network that ISIS fighters were within three kilometers of the northern Syria town late Monday.
The Pentagon announced earlier Tuesday that U.S. airstrikes had targeted ISIS positions near Kobani as the U.S. looks to keep the terror network from advancing all the way to the Turkish border.
Separately, Britain's Royal Air Force completed its first airstrikes against ISIS targets within Iraq on Tuesday. The jets destroyed an ISIS arsenal and vehicle with a mounted machine gun in a bid to assist Kurdish troops operating in northwest Iraq.
Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the U.S. welcomed the first U.K. airstrikes in a post to Twitter.
But the latest round of fighting near Kobani — along with intense fighting on the outskirts of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad — has raised new questions about the efficacy of the U.S. strategy to counter ISIS.
White House senior adviser Dan Pfieffer told CNN on Tuesday that Obama has "said from the beginning, this is going to take some time."
"This is a long-term effort. We have made progress," Pfeiffer said. "The Pentagon believes the airstrikes we've taken have been effective, but it's going to take some time."
Pfeiffer said that in Iraq, there remained "a lot of work to be done" because Iraqi security forces had become fractured and disillusioned under former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Pfeiffer said the army had "absolutely" botched the initial response to ISIS because Maliki undertook a "divisive, sectarian government."
Maliki, a Shia, had come under heavy criticism for excluding Sunni officials from top government and military posts, which fed support for the radical militants who have seized large swaths of the country's northern regions.