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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

World

US airdrops supplies for Kurds defending Khobani
Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times
Washington, October 20, 2014
First Published: 18:13 IST(20/10/2014)
Last Updated: 18:24 IST(20/10/2014)

Further escalating its engagement in Syria, the United States is airdropping military resupplies for Kurds defending Syria-Turkey border town Khobani from the ISIS.

US Air Force C-130s "dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies" near the town intending to "enable continued resistance" against ISIS, US central command in a statement.

But US military officials also warned that despite these measures Khobani "could still fall", as they had first indicated days ago, in a chilling reminder of ISIS's resilience.

With the battle taking centerstage in the war against ISIS, Turkey on Monday announced it will allow its territories to be used by Iraqi Kurds to join the fight to defend Khobani.

Ankara has been reluctant to help Syrian Kurds worried about consequences for its own fight against separatist Turkish Kurds. It also wants the removable of Bashar al-Assad as the priority.

The United States and its allies also want Assad to go, but have so far refused to make it their top goal, or a part of the ongoing military action. The ISIS remains their sole target.

The allies have together carried out 135 airstrikes on positions and assets of the ISIS, which has poured in significant fire-power into the fight for this town bordering Turkey.

Airdropping supplies is a further escalation of US involvement in Syria that has unfolded with a rather reluctant President Barak Obama starting by order overhead surveillance weeks ago.

The trigger was the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the ISIS. As outrage grew following the second beheading, of Steven Sotloff, so did US involvement.

Obama went from an embarrassingly public admission that the US had no plan on how to deal with this threat to ordering airstrikes against ISIS positions in Syria.

Under recently named Operation Inherent Resolve, US and its allies, mostly Arab nations, have carried out of hundreds of strikes to "degrade and defeat the terrorist group ISIL".

In the battle for Khobani, the US said thousands of ISIS fighters have perished and a significant quantity of military equipment have been destroyed, situation in Khobani remains "fragile".

If this key Syrian-Turkish border town falls it would be a significant that the ISIS remains strong despite the immense firepower thrown against it by the US and its allies.

The terrorist outfit, which controls vast swathes of Syria and Iraq, has changed tactics because of the coalition strikes, moving assets in the night for instance, it remains effective.


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