US drops ammo to rebel fighters in Syria | News | DW | 12.10.2015
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US drops ammo to rebel fighters in Syria

The US has carried out an air-drop in order to supply rebel fighters with ammunition. The move comes as the United Nations continues to seek a political end to the fighting.

United States military officials announced on Monday they had carried out an air-drop over the weekend to supply rebel groups in Syria with small arms ammunition. The move, part of Washington's new approach to battle in the war-ravaged country, comes as members of the international community are pressing for more dialogue between the US and Russia, which is also waging war in Syria.

Military representatives said US cargo planes had dropped the ammo to opposition groups in northern Syria battling the "Islamic State" (IS) militia. Though the groups were not named, one official told the AFP news agency their leaders were "appropriately vetted by the United States" and confirmed to be fighting IS.

The air drop is part of Washington's new strategy aimed at defeating "Islamic State." Last week, the Pentagon announced it was scrapping a program meant to train "moderate" Syrian rebels to fight IS, and will instead air-drop equipment to already proven fighters on the ground.

On Sunday, Kurdish and Arab fighters, along with a Syrian militia, announced an alliance to fight IS on the ground. The Syrian Democratic Forces, as the alliance is called, is expected to receive US military assistance.

More dialogue

Washington's announcement came the same day the United Nation's special envoy to Syria said he hoped for a political end to the conflict.

UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura told reporters on Monday he was going to Moscow to encourage more dialogue between the US and Russia. The two countries have been at odds over Syria, with Russian President Vladimir Putin offering military support to the embattled president Bashar al Assad, whom US President Barack Obama wants to see removed.

Though Russia, which began its military intervention in Syria two weeks ago, says it is targeting IS, officials in Washington claim Moscow is actually attacking rebel groups opposed to Assad.

As both the US and Russia ramp up fighting in Syria, de Mistrua said it was all the more necessary to encourage dialogue between the Assad regime and the US-backed oppositional groups seeking to topple him, according to Reuters news agency.

blc/bk (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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