US officials are reporting an overnight airdrop of some 50 tons of weapons and ammunition into northern Syria, the first stage in a new plan to prop up a “pro-US” rebel force in the country. They insisted all 112 pallets of weaponry were recovered by “moderate” forces.
Details are still scant, though the arms apparently targeted the Syrian Arab Coalition rebels, who later in the day announced they are changing their name to the Democratic Forces, after Kurdish faction YPG joined them amid reports the US promised a massive influx of new arms.
Those arms appear to be unrelated to those dropped today, which were mostly ammunition for existing small arms that the forces already have. The later arms shipments are said to include “fresh weapons” and everything they would need to capture ISIS capital Raqqa.
Though presented as a “new” strategy the Pentagon was actually doing weapons drops across Iraq for over a year now, a strategy that has come under criticism because on several occasions they accidentally dropped the arms where they would be recovered by ISIS.
It is noteworthy that the US chose the risky strategy of airdrops so far north, when the Turkish border is right there and their usual route for arms smuggling. The possibility of Kurdish factions benefiting from the arms may be the culprit here, as Turkey has opposed US aid to the Kurds in the past.
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