Kurdish fighters took control of Tal Abyad near the Turkish border Tuesday, dealing a major blow to ISIS by cutting off a key supply line to its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest gave the president credit for the string of victories Kurdish fighters have had against ISIS in Northern Syria – claiming their success is a direct result of Obama’s military decisions.
“It’s important to note that as these local ground forces have advanced, they’ve been backed by coalition military airstrikes. This was another illustration of the recipe for success that has been documented in places including recently in Tikrit over in Iraq.” Earnest said in response to an AP reporter who had asked, if the administration would now consider supplying the Kurds directly – rather than through Baghdad.
Earnest claimed that the Kurdish victory is “an indication that when our coalition can back capable, local fighters on the ground, we can make important progress against ISIL.”
With a lecturing tone, he continued, “it continues to be important for anti-ISIL forces to make concerted efforts to protect the local populations and property and secure the human rights of all citizens.”
Asked if he has any evidence at all that human rights have been violated by anti-ISIL forces, Earnest only said, “we continue to monitor the situation on the ground. Obviously our ability to do that is somewhat limited in a place like Syria.”
“One thing we do know,” he added, “is that this more recent success is actually a direct consequence of an earlier military operation that President Obama ordered” to break the siege of the Syrian city of Kobane last fall.
“Because of the president’s order to air drop significant resources and equipment and reinforcements, and because we were able to work with Turkey to allow for additional forces to enter that city…we saw that anti-ISIL forces were able to drive ISIL out of Kobane,” Earnest said, forgetting to mention that one of those airdrops went directly into the hands of ISIS.
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It should be pointed out that nothing Earnest said there answered the AP reporter’s question about arming the Kurds directly.
As Fox News reported recently, the Peshmerga could do even better if U.S. weapons went to them instead of the enemy.
ISIS has seized so much American weaponry from the Iraqi forces it has defeated in battle, there’s a joke going around in Arabic, “Hey US – don’t give the Iraqis any more weapons until the Islamic State has more storage space.”
It almost seems like the Kurds are winning despite the United States’ actions – not because of it.
“What America has given to Iraq in the past, what Iraq borrowed from Russia and U.S., ISIS has,” said Peshmerga commander Kemal Kerkuki. “They are using many, many, mines, C4, TNT, snipers, mortars; they have Humvees, they have tanks, they have different kinds of weapons.”
U.S. military aid is distributed through Baghdad, which has an arm’s length relationship with the semi-autonomous Kurds in the north. Without direct aid, the Kurds have largely made do with aging equipment and weapons they seize from ISIS.
“The weapons of [ISIS] are 10 times that of the Peshmerga,” said Maj. Gen. Sirwan Barzani, another Kurdish commander whose forces are based southwest of Erbil.Much of the weaponry the Peshmerga are currently using consists of old, worn-out munitions from the Iran-Iraq war more than 30 years ago.
“We ask all the Canadians, and the Americans and the whole coalition and NATO, please send good weapons to us to fight against this biggest terrorist group in the world,” Barzani said. “We are fighting for all the world, for all civilization.”