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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and military chiefs from more than 20 nations gathered Tuesday in a show of strength against Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria. But the alliance faced a fresh test as Turkey launched airstrikes against Kurdish rebels inside its borders, defying pleas from the U.S. to instead focus on the Islamic State.
The attacks marked Turkey's first major airstrikes against Kurdish rebels on its own soil since peace talks began two years ago, and occurred amid heightened concern over Islamic State advances on the Syrian town of Kobani. Kurds in Turkey accuse the government there of standing idly by while Syrian Kurds are being killed in the besieged border town.
The U.S. has been pressing Turkey to take a more active role in the campaign to destroy the Islamic State group. Officials from Ankara were participating in Tuesday's meeting at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, where coalition countries discussed their strategy.
"We are united in our goal to degrade and destroy ISIL," Obama said, using one acronym for the Islamic State. "This is a long-term campaign. There are no quick fixes."
Earlier Tuesday, the U.S.-led coalition launched 21 airstrikes in and around Kobani. One of the strikes targeted the Tel Shair hill that overlooks parts of the city, according to Idriss Nassan, deputy head of Kobani's foreign relations committee.
—The Associated Press