WASHINGTON: The American military for the first time airdropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Syrian Kurds in the battleground city of Kobane, US Central Command said, in a move likely to anger key ally Turkey.
A C-130 cargo aircraft conducted “multiple” airdrops of the supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq.
The supplies were “intended to enable continued resistance against ISIL’s attempts to overtake Kobane,” CENTCOM said in a statement referring to Islamic State fighters.
The United States and its Western allies have been pressing Turkey to take a more direct role in taking on IS fighters in Kobane, but Ankara is reluctant to arm Kurds and intervene militarily against the militants, fearing an effective fighting force from its historic foes on its border.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier rejected calls for his country to arm the main Kurdish party in Syria, describing the group as a terrorist organization, linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a 30-year insurgency for self-rule in southeastern Turkey.
But in a call, Erdogan and US President Barack Obama pledged to “strengthen cooperation” against IS in Syria.
American-led warplanes launched 11 air strikes near Kobane on Saturday and Sunday, CENTCOM said, helping Kurdish fighters repulse a new IS attempt to cut their supply lines from Turkey.
So far, US forces have conducted more than 135 airstrikes against IS in Kobane alone.