Kobane airdrop for Kurds allegedly seized by Islamic State

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Video showing weapons seized raises fears of American weapons in IS hands

Smoke rising in Kobane during the clashes between the Islamic State and Kurdish armed groups (AA)
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Friday 13 February 2015 2:45 UTC
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Fears have been raised that an airdrop of weapons meant for Kurdish fighters in Kobane could have ended up in the hands of the Islamic State.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that "one load was taken by IS and there are contradictory reports about a second."

In a video posted on the Internet overnight someone purported to be an IS fighter is seen parading the seized ammunition which he describes as “American aid thrown to the infidels". The militant is then seen opening wooden boxes filled with rockets and grenades, while planes are heard circling overhead.

"Praise be to God, this is booty for the mujahedeen," the militant is heard repeating in the video.

The American military could not confirm the account but said it was examining the video which appears to show several crates attached to a parachute.

US aircraft parachuted crates of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies on Sunday night to resupply Kurds, defending the Syrian town of Kobane from IS.

Several sources told AFP that two consignments had landed in the hands of IS, but others said that warplanes from a US-led coalition destroyed one of them once the error was detected.

US Central Command, which oversees American forces in the Middle East, said Monday that only one of 27 bundles had gone astray and that American warplanes bombed it to prevent the supplies being snatched by IS.

In Washington, Rear Admiral John Kirby could not confirm whether more than one bundle had drifted off course or if the bundle purportedly shown in the video was later bombed by American warplanes.

But he said analysts at Central Command and at the Pentagon were studying the video.

"We're still taking a look at it and assessing the validity of it," he told reporters. 

"I do want to add, though, that we are very confident that the vast majority of the bundles did end up in the right hands."

The US military was highly skilled at conducting air drops and the method was an effective way to ferry supplies to forces on the ground, he added.

A Pentagon spokesperson said Tuesday that the situation in a northern Syrian town remains "tenuous" despite US airstrikes there and the resupplying of Kurdish forces fighting IS.

Kobane is still controlled by Kurdish forces and the US will continue to hit IS targets near the town, Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby explained during a press briefing.

He added, however, "It’s still a very mixed, contested environment." 

Although the airstrikes and airdrops to resupply Kurdish forces are expected to help slow down IS, this doesn't mean that anyone can "forecast success" there, he said. Over the weekend, Kurdish forces were reported to have fought off IS, managing to seize back control of much of the troubled border town, but on Tuesday IS announced that it would be sending reinforcements to try and overrun the town completely before reinforcements from Iraqi Kurdistan could arrive.

After weeks of political wrangling, Turkey on Monday announced that it would help facilitate the transfer of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to Kobane to help defend the town, although these forces are not believed to have arrived yet.