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US Airdrops Arms to Kurds in Syria     10/20 06:30

   The U.S. military says it has airdropped weapons, ammunition and medical 
supplies to Kurdish forces defending the Syrian city of Kobani against Islamic 
State militants.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. military says it has airdropped weapons, 
ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish forces defending the Syrian city of 
Kobani against Islamic State militants.

   The airdrops Sunday were the first of their kind and followed weeks of U.S. 
and coalition airstrikes in and near Kobani, near the Turkish border. The U.S. 
said earlier in the day that it had launched 11 airstrikes overnight in the 
Kobani area.

   In a statement, U.S. Central Command said U.S. C-130 cargo planes made 
multiple drops of arms and supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq. It 
said they were intended to enable continued resistance to Islamic State efforts 
to take full control of Kobani.

   The airdrops are almost certain to anger the Turkish government, which has 
said it would oppose any U.S. arms transfers to the Kurdish rebels in Syria. 
Turkey views the main Kurdish group in Syria as an extension of the Turkish 
Kurd group known as the PKK, which has waged a 30-year insurgency in Turkey and 
is designated a terror group by the U.S. and by NATO.

   President Barack Obama called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 
Saturday to discuss the situation in Syria and notify him of the plan to make 
airdrops, one administration official told reporters. He would not describe 
Erdogan's reaction but said U.S. officials are clear about Turkey's opposition 
to any moves that help Kurdish forces that Turkey views as an enemy.

   In a written statement, Central Command said its forces have conducted more 
than 135 airstrikes against Islamic State forces in Kobani.

   Using an acronym for the Islamic State group, Central Command said, 
"Combined with continued resistance to ISIL on the ground, indications are that 
these strikes have slowed ISIL advances into the city, killed hundreds of their 
fighters and destroyed or damaged scores of pieces of ISIL combat equipment and 
fighting positions."

   In a conference call with reporters after Central Command announced the 
airdrops, senior administration officials said three C-130 planes dropped 27 
bundles of small arms, ammunition and medical supplies.

   One official said that while the results of the mission are still being 
assessed, it appeared that "the vast majority" of the supplies reached the 
intended Kurdish fighters. That official also said the C-130s encountered no 
resistance from the ground in Syria during their flights in and out of Syrian 
airspace. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules set 
by the White House.

   One of the administration officials said the airdrops should be seen as a 
humanitarian move. He said U.S. officials believe that if Kobani were to fall, 
the Islamic State militants would massacre Kurds in the town.

   Another administration official said "you might see more" U.S. resupply 
missions to benefit the Kurdish fighters in Kobani in the days ahead. Yet 
another administration official said a land route to resupply the Kurds had 
been under discussion but would require Turkish cooperation. He said talks on 
resupply needs and means would continue.


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