WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (UPI) — The United States airdropped 50 tons of small weapons ammo and grenades in northern Syria to boost efforts by rebel fighters in the country ravaged by civil war.
About 110 pallets were dropped Sunday in the Hasakah province by C-17s, accompanied by fighter escort aircraft, in the first step of President Barack Obama’s new tactic to support rebel groups, mainly the Syrian Arab Coalition.
“All the pallets reached friendly forces,” a senior defense official told Fox News.
The ammo was intended for use for the recently scrapped “train and equip” mission.
On Friday, the the United States announced it was canceling its $500 million failed program to train and equip large groups of moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State.
In 2014, the U.S. military began training moderate rebels opposing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to fight the IS, also known as Daesh, ISIL and ISIS. The goal was to prepare 15,000 combat soldiers within three years, but in September, U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin revealed only four or five rebels had been trained.
Obama on Sunday said that there was “no doubt” the training mission “did not work,” but added that he was “skeptical from the get-go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside of Syria.”
More than 250,000 people have died and more than 4 million have been displaced by the Syrian civil war. A U.S.-led coalition has carried out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq for more than a year.
Russia recently joined military efforts in Syria by launching airstrikes that bolster the regime of ally Assad.