Kurdish fighters received vast majority of US supply drop: Pentagon
WASHINGTON - Reuters
Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobane near the Mürşitpınar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border. REUTERS Photo / Kai PfaffenbachThe Pentagon said on Oct. 22 the vast majority of military supplies air dropped near the Syrian city of Kobane had reached the Kurdish fighters they were intended to help, despite an online video showing Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants with a bundle.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said experts were analyzing the video and trying to determine if the bundle was the one the department reported earlier had fallen into ISIL's hands or if it was a second bundle in the group's possession.
Pentagon officials said a U.S. airdrop had delivered 28 bundles of military supplies to Syrian Kurdish fighters near Kobane on Oct. 20 and reported that one had fallen into ISIL's hands. The Pentagon later said it had targeted the missing bundle in an air strike and destroyed it.
An Iraqi Kurdish official said 21 tons (tonnes) of supplies had been air dropped to the Kurds in Kobane.
"We're taking a look at this," Kirby said of the video. He said the small arms ammunition and weaponry depicted in the video were the kinds of supplies that were dropped, "so it's not out of the realm of possibility" that it was one of the bundles.
"We're still taking a look at it and assessing the validity of it," he said.
The video posted on YouTube is titled "Weapons and ammunition dropped by American planes that fell into areas of ISIL control in Kobane." It shows fighters inspecting boxes of hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades.
One masked gunman holds up a grenade and says, "Booty for the mujahideen."
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said U.S. officials had seen the video but could not confirm it was accurate.
"There's obviously a lot of false information, particularly propaganda, on the Internet and this may fall into that category," she told reporters.
"We know that part of ISIL's strategy here is to wage a propaganda campaign, and that's why one of our lines of effort has been delegitimizing ISIL's propaganda," she added.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence in the Syrian civil war, said two bundles of supplies had fallen in areas controlled by ISIL.
Kirby said the Pentagon was only aware of one of the 28 bundles of military supplies falling into the group's hands, and defended the use of airdrops for resupply.
"We are very confident that the vast majority of the bundles did end up in the right hands," Kirby said. "In fact, we're only aware of one bundle that did not."
He noted the military previously had used airdrops successfully in the fight against ISIL.
"It's a very efficient, effective way of getting supplies to a needed population quickly. We did it on Mount Sinjar. We did it in the town of Amerli for humanitarian purposes. We did it in Kobane to help these guys continue to fight," Kirby said.