The U.S. military said late Sunday it dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish militia forces in the Syrian border town of Kobani in order to help them in their fight against Islamic State militants, who have been trying to overrun the town for weeks.
The aircrafts delivered arms and supplies to the militia on the same day the Turkish government said it would not agree to transfer weapons to the Kurds in Syria. While Turkey has agreed to limited participation in the U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State, it has resisted aiding the Syrian Kurds, because are allied with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). That group has been engaged in episodic conflict with Turkey and is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and the United States.
Over the past week, the administration has unsuccessfully tried to persuade Turkey to open its border to the resupply. President Obama informed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the planned U.S. airdrop by phone Saturday, senior administration officials said.
“We have made clear to the Turkish government for some days now the urgency of facilitating resupply to those forces,” said one senior official, who added that Obama had conveyed to Erdogan “the importance we put on it.”
The airdrops, totaling what officials said were 27 “bundles” of supplies dropped by three C-130 cargo planes, followed a week of intensive U.S. and coalition airstrikes against militant forces in and around Kobane.
The U.S. has conducted some 135 airstrikes in the area of Kobani, itself a main focus of the Islamic State militant offensive. U.S. military officials said they have killed hundreds of fighters and damaged scores of combat equipment.
The Observatory, which has a network of sources inside Syria, said 15 jihadists were killed in the air strikes while 16 others died in ground clashes along with seven Kurdish fighters.
With the fighting raging, the corpses of at least 70 jihadists were brought over the past four days into an IS-controlled mortuary in the town of Tal Abyad further east, said the Observatory.
The U.S. military has said it sees “encouraging” signs in the battle for Kobani, but has warned the town may still fall.