U.S. Airdrops Weapons, Supplies to Besieged Syrian Kurds
WASHINGTON—The U.S. dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Syrian Kurds fighting Islamic State extremists in the embattled city of Kobani, U.S. officials said Sunday.
Three U.S. C-130 cargo planes began dropping the weapons and supplies, provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq, on Sunday, the officials said. Over several hours, the U.S. dropped 27 bundles of small arms, ammunition and supplies.
The mission marks a deeper U.S. involvement in the conflict and comes over the objections of U.S. ally Turkey, which strongly opposes arming the Syrian Kurds.
The U.S. has conducted some 135 airstrikes in the area of Kobani, itself a main focus of the Islamic State militant offensive. U.S. military officials said they have killed hundreds of fighters and damaged scores of combat equipment.
U.S. defense officials said earlier Sunday that the U.S. military had prepared options for arming or resupplying the Syrian Kurds, who are fighting to keep the extremist group Islamic State from taking over the city of Kobani.
Syria’s main Kurdish groups have been pleading for the U.S. to supply heavy weaponry to confront Islamic State, which they believe poses a threat to their community’s existence.
A senior administration official said the U.S. has emphasized with the Turkish government the urgency with which it views the situation in Kobani. In a telephone call on Saturday, President Barack Obama told Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdogan that the U.S. intended to resupply the Kurdish fighters with Iraqi Kurdish arms.