U.S. airdrop ends up arming the Kurds

Last weekend, the White House announced that the U.S. had dropped 50 tons of ammunition to Syrian Arabs fighting the Islamic State. Some officials now say that the new Arab coalition was a front and that Kurdish groups received most of the weapons — as the U.S. intended.

American and Kurdish officials and Syrian Arab opposition leaders told us this week that ammunition said to have been for the Syrian Arab Coalition, a newly announced group of Sunni Arab brigades in northeastern Syria, had largely ended up arming the Kurdish Democratic Union Party and its associated military forces, known as the People’s Protection Units or YPG. That will aid the Kurds in fighting the Islamic State and cementing their control of Kurdish territory.

One senior administration official who works on the issue told us that the White House knew that the coalition was likely to pass on most if not all of the weapons to the Kurds. The official, who called the Syrian Arab Coalition a “ploy” to arm the Kurds, said the White House knew they would receive the shipments because they controlled the area where the weapons were dropped. The U.S. did not ask the Arab coalition for any guarantees the weapons would stay in Arab hands, the official said.