Delivery includes small arms ammunition to resupply local forces, Pentagon says
UPDATES WITH RUSSIAN COMMENT, EDITS THROUGHOUT
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has confirmed that U.S.-led coalition forces conducted an airdrop to supply anti-Daesh ground forces in northern Syria.
“The aircraft delivery includes small arms ammunition to resupply local forces” to enable them to continue operations against Daesh, Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith told Anadolu Agency.
Smith said the “successful” airdrop was conducted by a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft flying from the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility and added that all aircraft left the drop zone safely.
The U.S. announced last week that it would “pause” its $500 million train and equip program for Syrian rebels and instead provide weapons and equipment packages to a select rebel groups.
“This focus on equipping and enabling will allow us to reinforce the progress already made in countering ISIL in Syria,” Smith, using another acronym for Daesh.
She declined to provide details about which rebel groups received the supplies, the location of the groups or the equipment supplied.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the People’s Protection Units (YPG) — the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) — said earlier that a “unified national military force” had been established to defeat Daesh.
The PYD is a Syrian-based affiliate of the PKK — considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
YPG spokesman Polat Can said the united force included Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian groups unified as the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin, which is providing military backing for President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, said it believed some of the arms drops would be seized by “terrorists”.
“We are quite sure that a significant part of this ammunition will be caught by terrorists,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday.
Russia began attacking ground forces opposed to Assad at the end of last month. NATO has accused Russia of targeting opposition forces it supports as well as Daesh.
“We looked at the structure of the Syrian Democratic Forces coalition and detected that there were some groups that had been cooperating with Daesh before,” he said in a joint news conference in Moscow following a meeting with the Rwandan foreign minister.
He added that an attack on the Russian embassy in Damascus, had not caused any casualties.