US drops arms and aid to Kurds battling IS in Kobane

OCTOBER 20, 2014

US military aircraft on Monday dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State (IS) militants in the key Syrian town of Kobane. IS is also referred to as Isil and Isis.

The US Central Command (CentCom) said C-130 transport aircraft had made "multiple" drops of supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq.

Meanwhile, US air strikes have helped push back IS fighters from overrunning the key town near the Turkish border. CentCom says US forces have conducted more than 135 air strikes against IS in Kobane.

"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," its statement said.

However, it added that IS fighters continued to threaten Kurdish forces' ability to resist and hold the city. "Kobane could still fall," it said.

The drops of supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq were "intended to enable continued resistance against Isil's attempts to overtake Kobane," CentCom said.

All the aircraft involved had returned safely, it added.

However, the airdrops are likely to anger a key US ally and NATO member, Turkey .

On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not allow Kurdish fighters to receive any transfers of American arms.

Turkey has resisted calls to help the Kurds fighting in Kobane, describing them as terrorists like the Kurdish militant group the PKK.

Turkey has faced a decades-long insurgency by the PKK, which is regarded as a terrorist group by the US and other allies of Turkey.

IS militants control territory straddling Syria and Iraq. Kobane is one of their strategic objectives, and fierce fighting has raged in the town for weeks, forcing the evacuation of most of its civilian inhabitants.