US supply drop to Kurds in the hands of the Islamic State

‘Amaq News, an unofficial pro-Islamic State news channel, has released a video showing Islamic State fighters in possession of a US supply drop intended for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the vicinity of Kobane, or Ayn al Arab.

The video shows an Islamic State fighter boasting about the captured bundle. The supplies include many fragmentation grenades, gear, and RPG rockets.

The United States began airdropping weapons and ammunition to Kurdish forces in Kobane after the Islamic State began to make serious gains in their weeks old campaign to take the city. According to The New York Times, the United States dropped 27 bundles of weapons, gear, and ammo for the Kurds. The United States has also launched more than 135 airstrikes near Kobane in the last few weeks, with the intensity only picking up the last few days.

It is also important to note that the YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK is a designated foreign terrorist organization according to the US State Department.

Update:

On Oct. 23, 2014, the Pentagon admitted that a stray bundle dropped by Air Force C-130’s was indeed captured by the Islamic State.

Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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19 Comments

  • Alan Wills says:

    This was the bundle that detached from the other bundles and drifted into an IS controlled zone. The U.S. targeted it in a subsequent air strike.

  • m3fd2002 says:

    Good video. You can tell that they were a bit suspicious of these supplies, watch the body language. The CIA is known for placing tainted supplies (ancient tactic) for hostiles to recover. That would be the best spin on the video. These supplies were dropped in the countryside, not in the built up areas where the YPF are trapped, yes trapped. ISIS on three sides with the Turks sealing the border to the north. The airstrikes should have some effect, but how much, we will see.

  • Wally Xie says:

    There are some Kurds saying that the video is a repurposed one that actually shows a missed airdrop from Anbar a while back. Has the veracity of that video been confirmed? Not saying that the Kurds are right, (everyone lies in a propaganda war) but Daesh has repurposed old videos before.

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    Several things I’ve noticed about the video:
    1. There is a wired fence, which looks like the border and beyond that no man’s land and then Turkey.
    2. The area where they seemed to found this ammunition looks like in the countryside, rather than the town of Kobani itself.
    3. There is Arabic writings in the package, rather than Kurdish. In Syrian Kurdistan, Kurdish is primarily written in the Roman alphabet rather than Arabic script. Was this intentional or they didn’t have any Kurdish translators to produce Kurdish writings?

  • Caleb Weiss says:

    Wally,
    The environment and locale most certainly looks like it is around Kobane. I will link you to videos from fighting in and around Kobane and let you see for yourself.












    I find it highly unlikely that this is from Anbar, which looks much different.
    ‘Amaq News (or A3maq, however one wants to transliterate it) seems to only post videos from in or around Kobane.

  • Alan Wills says:

    Wally, you may well be right about the video being from the supplies that the Iraqi Air Force tried and failed to deliver to a besieged air base in Iraq earlier this month.
    In the drop to Kurds in Kobani, the countryside west of the city was used. The Kurds do now control that area while IS controls areas to the south and east, though they are apparently on their heels a bit now after the pounding they’ve received from the air.

  • “It is also important to note that the YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK is a designated foreign terrorist organization according to the US State Department.”
    This is nitpicking, I admit, but why is it “important to note”? Merely for the stating of the fact? Or is the emphasis meant to call into question our airdropping of arms and ammo to those Kurds in the first place?
    Yes, the PKK is listed as such, and has been for a number of years.
    HOWEVER, an argument can be advanced that the Erdogan government is treading closer to the very same position with what is essentially a refusal to fight ISIS — on top of (still) allowing ISIS to use Turkey for transit.
    There is evidence sufficient to arouse suspicions that it might have actively supplied ISIS in the past. A few years ago, trucks belonging to the MIT (National Intelligence), loaded with weapons and headed for al Qaida in Iraq/ISIS territory south of the border were stopped by Jandarma provincial military police. The latter were hastily told by Ankara, get your mitts off those vehicles and keep your mouths shut.
    The MIT was who later negotiated the release of the Mosul consulate staff, and Ankara has leaped through pretzels to claim that nothing untoward was exchanged in the way of quid pro quos.
    The Erdogan government (as distinct from Turkey, and especially its military) is NOT a loyal member of NATO.
    Recep Erdogan tells Turks living in Germany, do NOT assimilate. Go figure what he is likely to feel about Europeans, about White Turks, and about NATO.

  • Tom says:

    Not surprising. Anyyone watching the Livecam on the Turkish Border can tell IS controls 80% of Kobane and the border post.
    Also yesterday, IS destroyed the YPG’s main ammo dump, so the resupply is moot.
    Meanwhile, IS ha surrounded and has begun storming Sinjar Mountain, and is pressing on the Mosul Dam.
    Kobane has become a strategic trap for the US Military. Every sortie wasted here is not helping ISF.

  • Evan says:

    I’m personally glad that we’ve decided to take a much more proactive role in the fight against IS at Kobani, regardless of the YPG’s affiliation to the PKK. The Kurds need to learn to work together, and this will help.
    The IS has committed serious man power and resources to this fight, so we should deplete it accordingly. Good move on the resupply, 26 out of 27 isn’t bad. IS wont be able to resupply their fighters, replace wounded and killed fighters, continue to move heavy weapons and man power, with all the resources required to do that across distances, while we continue to bleed them on multiple fronts.
    The near simultaneous attacks on approximately 15 Kurdish positions across northern Iraq yesterday could be viewed as a strategic attempt to lock up iraqi Kurdish manpower, and prevent or dissuade them from reinforcing Kobani.
    We need to do MORE to kill MORE IS bad guys….

  • Alan Wills says:

    Not sure why my follow-up post on the air drops was not published. Perhaps because I claimed that IS controls the south and east while Kurds control the west, including the countryside there. Here is where I got that info, from a recent BBC article, scroll down to the maps:

  • Andy Bochman says:

    ISIS already has more weapons than they know what to do with. Though it’s not good PR, one care package from us doesn’t add to their strength in any discernible way.

  • J.R. says:

    Yes, let’s see how long IS can handle the grind. They aren’t used to continuous air attacks. Now that the Kurds appear to be fantastic spotters, IS is facing destruction from the sky.

  • m3fd2002 says:

    My thinking is closer to Tom’s. Let’s put things into perspective for this board:
    //news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/57324000/gif/_57324404_us_troops_iraq_624.gif
    This graph shows that the US had about 170k troops in Iraq at its peak, along with extensive armor, artillery, and air assets(fixed and rotary). It could be argues we had a decisive victory at that time over Saddam’s army, then following, the shia/sunni insurgency. In addition, there were some 500k iraqi security personnel, and few thousand more coalition troops in theater. However, there was still a simmering sunni insurgency and we were still taking low casualties daily until we pulled out completely. Fast forward to today, those assets are not in theater. Iraq army has been decimated for what ever reasons. The remnant Sunni insurgents have reconstituted with significant combat experience. A couple of dozen air sorties per day will change nothing. How long will the US bomb? This is a complex civil war (Shia/Sunni Arab/Christian/Kurd/Yazidi/etc.) We are seeing the “balkanization” of the Middle East in slow motion.

  • maverick404 says:

    I hear American spotters are lasing targets from Turkeys side of the boarder. Has anyone else heard anything about this?

  • Ricardo says:

    Hey tom.
    Glad you could show up and talk.
    The more often you are online and the longer you stay online, the better it is. Watching people is fun. Get to see, who they talk to. Much better that some people talk and talk and talk.

  • Alan Wills says:

    “Kobane has become a strategic trap for the US Military. Every sortie wasted here is not helping ISF.” — Tom
    More like ISIL’s Stalingrad. They keep pouring men and material up into the meatgrinder of Kobane while getting pulverized by air strikes and still unable to dislodge the Kurdish defenders. They’ve never met resistance like this yet in Syria and they’re command is exhibiting Hitler-like obsession to seize that objective at any cost. ISIL is making the strategic blunder, not the US. Coalition air strikes are preventing ISIL from taking back the Mosul dam and other fronts in Iraq are stabilizing, such as to the west of Baghdad.
    There are plenty of aircraft and munitions available in theater to ably assist whatever forces on the ground are willing to stand against ISIL. The Kurds in Kobane are foremost on that honor roll and therefore deserve every single air strike in support of them, in my opinion.

  • Wally Xie says:

    The “main YPG ammo dump” that Tom mentioned was destroyed was how elements of Turkish media reported it. Locals tweeting from Kobane (see @cahitstorm) and YPG said it was a massive combination of airstrikes they called in on an IS-held part of town. Bias from both sources, but I’m a bit more inclined to trust the locals on this one. Additionally, Turkish media stopped trumpeting that report pretty quick.
    Beautiful, poetic shot recorded from Turkish side of border via AFP of airstrike on Tell-Shair hill.: //youtu.be/Vx-jd3w7kPU Hearsay is that the YPG retreated from the border on purpose to lure some IS into congregating on the hill.

  • Celtiberian says:

    PKK is considered a terrorist organization only because Turkey pressure on USA and UE. PKK was pivotal in the rescue of Yezidis from ISIS onslaught this summer as well as helping the Iraqi KRG kurds to maintain their frontlines when ISIS pushed in force.
    Actually the best allies the West can find in the whole region are the KRG government, the YPG, PKK and PJAK (the kurdish guerrilla linked to PKK fighting in Iran kurdistan against iranian revolutionary guards), all strongly pro-democracy, secular and anti-jihadist. All other actors are just different shades of jhadists or in the best case secular dictatorships (like Syrian government).

  • Regarding “Tom”:
    GAZE

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis