The U.S. military airdropped 50 tons of small arms ammo and grenades in northern Syria on Sunday, a senior defense official told Fox News, representing the Pentagon’s shift from training rebel fighters to equipping them.
Coming just two days after the Defense Department announced it was effectively ending its current training program, the airdrop delivery was made Sunday by four C-17 transport aircraft. The 112 pallets contained ammunition for M-16s and AK-47s.
“All the pallets reached friendly forces,” the official said, adding that the drop “looked similar to what we did in Kobani.” This referred to one of the few bright spots in the war against the Islamic State when the U.S. military dropped weapons to Syrian Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG, who successfully expelled ISIS from the Turkish-Syrian border town of Kobani earlier this year.
This time, the official said Syrian Kurds were not recipients of the U.S. airdrop — only Syrian Arabs fighting ISIS. There is sensitivity in Washington over arming Syrian Kurds, whom Turkey sees as an enemy but the U.S. counts as a NATO ally.
The 50 tons of supplies were airdropped into Al-Hasakah province, home to Syrian Kurds, Arabs and a minority Assyrian community.