Three C-130 cargo planes dropped 27 bundles of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to the Kurdish fighters, a senior U.S. administration official said late Sunday. The Pentagon believes "the vast majority" of the supplies reached the Kurdish fighters, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under orders from the White House.
Agence France-Presse reported Monday that U.S. warplanes bombed a bundle of supplies that went astray. U.S. Central Command said the bundle was targeted by warplanes to prevent it from falling into the hands of enemy Islamic State fighters.
The cargo planes were unescorted by fighters because the Pentagon does not believe that the Islamic State has anti-aircraft capability, although fighter jets remain on standby. All the aircraft returned safely at about 8 p.m. ET, the official said.
The aid packages were provided by the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, according to a statement from the U.S. Central Command.
U.S. officials have become increasingly worried that Kobani, which sits on the border of NATO ally Turkey, could fall into the hands of the Islamic State. That would give the militant group, also known as ISIL or ISIS, a symbolic victory and result in a humanitarian catastrophe, military commanders in the region have warned.
The United States has been furnishing the Syrian opposition with military aid for some time in order to combat the regime of President Bashar Assad, but the Kobani airdrop is the first significant effort to supply front-line forces fighting the Islamic state.
The operation is also significant because the Turkish government has opposed arming the Kurdish forces, which it says are closely related to a Kurdish terrorist group operating within Turkey. President Obama called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday "and was able to notify him of our intent to do this and the importance we placed on it," a second administration official said.
To date, U.S. forces have also conducted more than 135 airstrikes against ISIL in Kobani, U.S. Central Command says; 11 happened in the 24 hours before the airdrop.