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Monday, October 20, 2014

US airdrops weapons, medicine to Kurds

Kurdish refugees from the Syrian town of Kobani prepare tea in a camp in the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province.

The US Central Command said US Air Force C-130 aircraft had dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to allow the Kurdish fighters to keep up their resistance in the town which is called Kobani in Kurdish and Ayn al-Arab in Arabic.

The main Syrian Kurdish armed group, the YPG, said it had received "a large quantity" of ammunition and weapons.

Redur Xelil, a YPG spokesman, said the arms dropped would have a "positive impact" on the battle and the morale of fighters. But he added: "Certainly it will not be enough to decide the battle."

"We do not think the battle of Kobani will end that quickly. The forces of (Islamic State) are still heavily present and determined to occupy Kobani. In addition, there is resolve (from the YPG) to repel this attack," he said.

He declined to give details on the shipment.

Welat Omer, one of five doctors in Kobani, said that he and his colleagues had received medicine and were distributing it to patients. This included drugs for children and the elderly and materials for operations.

"This medicine will only be enough for five days. We want them to send more, because we have many patients," he said.

The United States began carrying out air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq in August and about a month later started bombing the militant group in neighboring Syria.

However, the resupply of Kurdish fighters points to the growing coordination between the US military and a Syrian Kurdish group that had been kept at arms' length by the West due partly to the concerns of NATO member Turkey.

The United States is also planning to expand military aid to the "moderate" opposition to Assad as part of its strategy against Islamic State. But rebel groups battling both Assad and Islamic State in western Syria complain they have yet to receive the kind of support going to the Kurds, whom they have accused of cooperating with Assad - a charge the Kurds deny.

Washington has pressed Ankara to let it use bases in Turkey to stage air strikes, and a Turkish foreign ministry official said the country's airspace had not been used during the drops on Kobani.

The US military conducted six air strikes against Islamic State militants near Kobani on yesterday and today, the US Central Command said in a statement.

US forces, in coordination with Iraqi ground troops, also conducted six air strikes against the militant group in Iraq near Fallujah and Bayji with help from France and Britain, Central Command said.

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Tags:  US  Kurds  Syria  Kobani  IS  Turkey  airdrop  World  





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