U.S. airdrops arms to Kurds in Syria
Washington – — The U.S. military said Sunday it had airdropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish forces defending the Syrian city of Kobani against Islamic State militants.
The airdrops Sunday were the first of their kind and followed weeks of U.S. and coalition airstrikes in and near Kobani, near the Turkish border. The U.S. said earlier Sunday that it had launched 11 airstrikes overnight in the Kobani area.
In a statement Sunday night, U.S. Central Command said U.S. C-130 cargo planes made multiple drops of arms and supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq. It said they were intended to enable continued resistance to Islamic State efforts to take full control of Kobani.
The airdrops are almost certain to anger the Turkish government, which has said it would oppose any U.S. arms transfers to the Kurdish rebels in Syria. Turkey views the main Kurdish group in Syria as an extension of the Turkish Kurd group known as the PKK, which has waged a 30-year insurgency in Turkey and is designated a terror group by the U.S. and by NATO.
In a written statement, Central Command said its forces have conducted more than 135 airstrikes against Islamic State forces in Kobani.
Using an acronym for the Islamic State group, Central Command said, “Combined with continued resistance to ISIL on the ground, indications are that these strikes have slowed ISIL advances into the city, killed hundreds of their fighters and destroyed or damaged scores of pieces of ISIL combat equipment and fighting positions.”