U.S. accidentally delivered weapons to the Islamic State by airdrop, militants say
This post has been updated with additional reporting.
The Islamic State has released a new video in which it brags that it recovered weapons and supplies that the U.S. military intended to deliver to Kurdish fighters, who are locked in a fight with the militants over control of the Syrian border town of Ayn al Arab.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadist social media accounts, drew attention to the video Tuesday. At one point, it appears to show a masked militant raking his hands through a crate filled with hand grenades.
A U.S. Central Command spokesman said he was looking into the reports. In a news release Monday, U.S. military officials acknowledged launching one airstrike near Kobane that they said destroyed “a U.S. airdrop of Kurdish supplies” to prevent “these supplies from falling into enemy hands.”
“All other resupply bundles were successfully delivered,” the CENTCOM news release said, without specifying what was in the shipment.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Tuesday afternoon that analysts were working to determine what happened. The Defense Department is aware that one bundle didn’t make it into the right hands, and is not sure whether the one that appears in the video is the same one CENTCOM already reported destroying.
On Tuesday, the U.S. military announced another four airstrikes near Kobane, saying it hit Islamic State fighting positions, a building occupied by the militants, and “a large ISIL unit,” using one of the acronyms for the group. The U.S. has launched dozens of airstrikes around Ayn al Arab in the last week, as the militants besiege the town.
The incident highlights the difficulty in making sure all airdrops are accurate, even with GPS-guided parachutes that the Air Force commonly uses. Airdrops of food and water to religious minorities trapped on mountain cliffs in northern Iraq in August hit the mark about 80 percent of the time, Pentagon officials said at the time.
The United States began dropping weapons, ammunition, medical supplies and other equipment to fighters defending Kobane on Sunday night, in part because Turkey would not allow Kurdish fighters to cross its borders into Kobane to bolster the town’s defenses. Turkish officials said they changed their mind on Monday, but the deal is tentative and depends on whether separate Kurdish groups can resolve longterm differences to confront the Islamic State.
Source: By Dan Lamothe – 21 October 2014 (washingtonpost.com)