The Pentagon has said the vast majority of military supplies air dropped near the Syrian city of Kobani reached the Kurdish fighters they were intended to help, despite an online video showing Islamic State (IS) militants with a bundle.
The YouTube video entitled “Weapons and ammunition dropped by American planes that fell into areas of Islamic State control in Kobani” shows fighters inspecting boxes of hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades. One masked gunman holds up a grenade and says, “Booty for the mujahideen”.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said experts were analysing the video to determine if the bundle was the one the department reported had fallen into the hands of IS or if it was a second bundle in the group’s possession.
Pentagon officials said a US airdrop had delivered 28 bundles of military supplies to Syrian Kurdish fighters near Kobani on Sunday and reported that one had fallen into the hands of IS militants.
The Pentagon later said it had targeted the missing bundle in an air strike and destroyed it.
Meanwhile, United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has warned that using only military means to fight the threat of IS in Syria could radicalise more Sunni armed groups and spark greater violence.
“Our long-term strategic objective in Syria remains a political solution,” Mr Ban told the UN Security Council yesterday.
The United Nations is spearheading efforts to end a civil war sparked by president Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests more than three years ago.
“A purely military response to the vicious new threat posed by Islamic State could ultimately contribute to the radicalisation of other Sunni armed groups and spark a cycle of renewed violence,” he said.
IS has seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and is being targeted by US-led air strikes in both countries. The Sunni militant group has crucified and beheaded prisoners and told non-Muslims and Shi'ites they must convert to its brand of Islam or die.
"We must defeat (IS) and other terrorist groups. We must hold accountable all those in the Assad regime responsible for its widespread atrocities," US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told the Security Council.
“But we wholeheartedly agree with the Secretary-General that a political solution is absolutely essential to address the root causes of extremism in Syria, and to address the legitimate aspirations and grievances of its people,” she said.
IS is battling Kurdish forces for control of the strategically important Syrian town of Kobani at the Turkish border.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, appointed by Ban to mediate a political solution in Syria, has warned that thousands of people could be massacred if Kobani falls to the group.
“Kobani is just one of many places across Syria where civilians are under imminent threat,” Mr Ban told the council meeting on the Middle East, urging the 15-member body to fully support the efforts of de Mistura.
The United Nations says some 3.2 million Syrians have fled the violence that has killed nearly 200,000 people.
The United States launched air strikes against IS targets in Iraq in August after the government asked for help. About a month later, the US began bombing the militant group in neighbouring Syria after notifying Mr Assad's government of the operation, but not seeking its approval.
Washington justified its action under Article 51 of the UN Charter, which covers an individual or collective right to self-defence against armed attack.
Syrian ally Russia has questioned the legality of the strikes, saying that Syria's consent was needed barring a UN Security Council resolution authorizing action.
“The so-called coalition has refused to cooperate with Damascus and Tehran which are logical allies in combating terrorism in the region,” said Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin. “Perhaps the campaign against IS would have been more successful with that support.”