Kurdish YPG fighters taking position inside a school. July 2015. Photo: AFP
WASHINGTON DC—Amid conflicting reports on the delivery of weapons and ammunition airdropped into northern Syria last week, the US military said Thursday it wasn’t sure if the Kurds had recovered any of the packages.
“I don’t have a breakdown of exactly where those—where everything went,” said the US Defense Dept. Spokesman Peter Cook. “My understanding is that…this specifically went to Syrian Arab forces and that there were other groups, opposition groups that may have also been able to recover some of the weaponry as well.”
American C-17 transport planes airdropped 45 tons of weapons and ammunitions in Syria’s Hassakeh province last Sunday, which the US military said was destined for Syrian Arab rebels fighting the Islamic State (ISIS).
Following the airdrop, the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) announced that the US had supplied them with new defense articles.
The Obama administration however, quickly denied the Kurds’ claim about the delivery though the Pentagon and State Department briefly admitted on Thursday that some of the weapons had gone to the Kurds.
“Yes, yes. That's my understanding — Kurdish forces as well,” said Cook, pressed by reporters.
This brief admission was followed by a statement posted on the Pentagon website, insisting that the airdrop was only intended for US-approved Syrian rebels.
“Sunday’s airdrop in northern Syria was intended for and successfully delivered to vetted Syrian Arab forces,” read the statement. “We have no indication at this time that any of that equipment was shared with any other groups,”
It is likely that the Kurdish YPG has taken possession of at least some of the weapons delivery since the group has a heavy presence in the Hassakeh region where it has repelled successive ISIS attacks in the last two years.
Earlier this week, Salih Muslim, head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) who commands the YPG confirmed that the US had supplied arms to the YPG and that more was on the way.