US airdrops to Kobane were not wrong, Washington says after Erdoğan criticism
WASHINGTONWashington does not think the U.S. airdrop of weapons to the Syrian border town of Kobane was wrong, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf has said, when asked about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s critical remarks on the issue.
Erdoğan had said he has been proven right over his objections to the airdrop by U.S.-led coalition forces intended for Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Kobane, claiming that some of the supplies ended up in the hands of jihadist militants.
“It has emerged that what was done was wrong,” he said on Oct. 22, but when asked if the U.S. thinks the operation was a mistake during the State Department’s daily foreign press briefing later on the same day, Harf simply answered: “Not at all.”
“[U.S. President Barack Obama] has made very clear why we consider it urgent and essential to resupply the fighters in Kobane who are in a desperate situation,” she added, also referring to Erdoğan and Obama’s recent telephone conversation, which took place at Obama’s initiative on Oct. 19.
Later on the same day, the U.S. Central Command announced that in multiple airdrops, the U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft had “delivered weapons, ammunition and medical supplies provided by the Kurdish authorities in Iraq and intended to enable continued resistance against ISIL’s attempts to take over Kobane.”
In her remarks, Harf sought to avoid indicating a conflict between allies, but underlined that the U.S. stands behind the logic of the airdrop operation.
“We’ll let the Turkish Government speak for itself, but allowing ISIL to seize more territory along the border with Turkey could endanger more Syrian communities and threaten our shared interest with Turkey in defeating ISIL and strengthening the moderate opposition,” she said.
Harf also responded to reports that some airdropped weapons had fallen into the hands of ISIL, without confirming that at least one cache of supplies had fallen to ISIL.
“All military missions incur some risks. But the alternative of doing nothing, of not making sure the fighters pushing ISIL back on the ground in and around Kobane have the weapons and the ammunition they need and the medical supplies they need, we don’t think is a viable option,” she said.