The US has airdropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish forces defending the city of Kobani from the “Islamic State.” The move could anger NATO ally Turkey, which opposes arming Kurdish militias.
US C-130 cargo planes flew multiple resupply missions over besieged Kobani on Sunday, delivering badly needed weapons and ammunition to Kurdish fighters, as they engaged “Islamic State” militants in the heaviest fighting seen in days.
The airdrops were the first officially acknowledged instance of the US directly supplying Kurds in Syria with weapons. Up until now, Washington has been supporting Kobani’s defenders with airstrikes and intelligence.
The weapons were provided by Kurds from neighboring Iraq “to enable continued resistance against ISIL’s attempts to overtake Kobani,” according to the US military’s Central Command, which uses an alternative acronym for the Islamic State.
The airdrops could further strain America’s already frayed ties with NATO ally Turkey. Washington has been pressuring Ankara to intervene on behalf of the Kurds in Kobani, which straddles the Syria-Turkey border.
Though Turkey publicly opposes the Islamic State, it has refused to support Kobani’s Kurdish defenders. The Turkish government battled a Kurdish insurgency for 30 years and views both the PKK political organization in Turkey and the PYD in Syria as terrorist organizations.
Over the weekend, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rebuffed US pressure to arm Kurdish forces in Syria.
“It would be wrong for the United States – with whom we are friends and allies in NATO – to talk openly and to expect us to say ‘yes’ to such support for a terrorist organization,” Erdogan said.