Syrian Activists: US Arms Airdrop Near Kobani Lands in ISIL Hands
by VOA News October 21, 2014
Syrian activists say that one of the U.S. airdrops with weapons and ammunition meant for Kurdish fighters near the town of Kobani has instead landed in the hands of Islamic State militants.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, with sources inside Syria, said Tuesday that the sizable parachuted cache was grabbed by the insurgents after the U.S. Air Force dropped the supplies Sunday night. The rights group said the jihadists also may have secured a second consignment intended for the Kurdish militiamen, who are fighting for control of the town just south of the Turkish border.
The United States has acknowledged that one of its airdrops landed in the wrong spot and destroyed it when the error was discovered, but says that the 'vast majority' of the 27 airdrops ended up in the hands of the Kurdish fighters.
A video uploaded by a media group loyal to the Islamic State shows a masked fighter inspecting the cache of hand grenades, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The fighter voiced his delight at capturing the arms cache.
'Thanks be to God, spoils and booty for the mujahedeen,' he said.
Analysts tell the Associated Press the poorly aimed weapons drop may be a mistake of little strategic consequence. The Islamic State already possesses a huge trove of American weapons seized from Iraqi soldiers as they fled in the face of the militants' takeover of vast reaches of Iraq.
With the fight for Kobani unresolved, Britain says it will soon conduct military surveillance flights over Syria to collect intelligence on Islamic State militants.
British Defense Minister Michael Fallon said the country's expanded role in the U.S.-led fight against the insurgents would include use of armed Reaper drones and Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft, although no weapons would be fired.
Fallon said in a written statement to parliament Tuesday the new Syrian surveillance is necessary 'to protect our national security from the terrorist threat emanating from there.'
Britain's Royal Air Force has conducted nearly 40 combat missions against the Islamic State militants in Iraq, but unlike the United States and several Arab states, is not conducting airstrikes in Syria.
London said parliament would have to approve an expanded fighting operation in Syria.
Fighting in Kobani
Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters and Islamic State militants continue to battle in the northern Syrian town of Kobani.
Plumes of smoke could be seen Tuesday from across the border in Turkey, as the two sides clashed again in the weekslong fight that has drawn international support to help the Kurds hold off militant attempts to take the town.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said planes from the U.S.-led coalition also launched airstrikes in the area.
On Monday, the U.S. dropped shipments of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq to the Kurds in Kobani.
Turkey to aid Iraqi Kurds
Turkey also said it is helping Iraqi Kurds cross into Syria to help in the fighting there.
Kobani refugees in contact with relatives in Kobani told VOA there were two coalition airstrikes overnight.
The refugees also told VOA that they were encouraged by news that Turkey will allow Iraqi Kurds into Syria help reinforce local fighters in Kobani.
They said they are hopeful the Kurd fighters in Kobani, battling Islamic State militants for the past month, can turn things around, but the refugees said it will take time.
VOA correspondent Scott Bobb contributed to this report from Turkey. Some material for this report came from Reuters.
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