Last night the White House held an on background conference call to brief reporters on the provision of arms to Kurdish fighters in Kobani over the weekend.
According to officials, a total of 27 bundles of small arms, ammunition and medical supplies were air dropped into Kobani. When asked exactly what kinds of arms were dropped, the official noted the weapons themselves were provided by the Kurds, noting that “I just don’t have the breakdown of exactly what types they were,” so effectively they don’t know (or aren’t saying.)
One official noted that this is the continuation of a campaign that began last year to arm rebels.
The call also more bluntly describes the US mission against ISIS than what the press describes it as. The officials describe efforts to bleed out ISIS in a long protracted campaign where “what we’re trying to do with this resupply is support those who are seeking to inflict greater losses” on ISIS. Two officials noted that airstrikes have killed hundreds of fighters and destroyed scores of pieces of equipment. They described our strategy against ISIS as “opportunistic” and said that “if we, again, see ISIL massing forces, massing equipment, and presenting us with an opportunity to set back ISIL capabilities, we’re going to act.”
You can read the transcript of the conference call here. What follows are excerpts of what “senior administration officials” said:
“… the United States military delivered weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to the forces fighting against ISIL on the ground in Kobani.”
“The airdrops consisted of 27 bundles total of small arms, ammunition and medical supplies. As the previous briefer indicated, these were all supplies that were provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq.”
” I don’t think — in fact, I don’t have the specifics. These were — this was Kurdish equipment, Kurdish arms, Kurdish ammunition that was provided to them — small arms and ammunition, personnel-type materiel that was provided, again, by Kurdish authorities. And I just don’t have the breakdown of exactly what types they were.”
“We do not describe the specifics of what types of assistance we provide to the opposition for a variety of reasons, but I’d just note that the decision to provide military assistance is one that we took last year”
“… our strikes have been focused on degrading the ISIL safe haven there. So targeting sources of financing such as mobile oil refineries, targeting command and control targets and supply lines that help support ISIL operations in Iraq.”
“Also what we’ve seen over the course of the last several days and weeks is ISIL surge its resources towards Kobani; masses of fighters and weapons and heavy weapons. That, frankly, has presented an opportunity.”
“I would note, however, that this is not simply the humanitarian interest that compels this action, as important as that is. This is an opportunity to strike blows against ISIL.”
“And what we’re trying to do with this resupply is support those who are seeking to inflict greater losses while also defending their own homes and their own town.”
“So we are going to be opportunistic in this campaign. … And if we, again, see ISIL massing forces, massing equipment, and presenting us with an opportunity to set back ISIL capabilities, we’re going to act.”
“As the previous briefer mentioned, we know we’ve killed hundreds of their fighters, and this is just around Kobani. And we’ve destroyed or damaged scores of pieces of their equipment and their fighting positions, and we continue to do that.”