Has the US and Its Allies Used Covert Airdrops, Drones to Supply the Islamic State?

covert-airdropBy Ulson Gunnar

When asking these questions, they must first be understood in the context that:

(A.) According to WikiLeaks, within the e-mails of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton it was acknowledged that the governments of two of America’s closest allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, were providing material support to the Islamic State (IS);

(B.) That according to the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) (PDF), the US and its allies sought to use a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria as a strategic asset against the Syrian government, precisely where the Islamic (Salafist) State (principality) eventually manifested itself and;

(C.) That the fighting capacity of the Islamic State is on such a large and sustained level, it can only be the result of immense and continuous state sponsorship, including a constant torrent of supplies by either ground or air (or both).

Within this context, we can already partially answer these questions with confirmed statements made by another of America’s closest allies in the region, and a long-time NATO member, Turkey.

It was a May 2016 Washington Times article titled, “Turkey offers joint ops with U.S. forces in Syria, wants Kurds cut out,” that quoted none other than the Turkish Foreign Minister himself admitting (emphasis added):

Joint operations between Washington and Ankara in Manbji, a well-known waypoint for Islamic State fighters, weapons and equipment coming from Turkey bound for Raqqa, would effectively open “a second front” in the ongoing fight to drive the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, from Syria’s borders, [Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu] said.

And clearly, by simply looking at maps of the Syrian conflict over the past 5 years, the supply corridors used by the Islamic State, via Turkey, to resupply its region-wide warfare were significant until Kurdish fighters reduced them to one, now the epicenter of a questionable Turkish military incursion into northern Syria.

With the Islamic State’s ground routes hindered, is there another way the US or at the very least, admittedly its Islamic State-sponsoring allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar could deliver food, ammunition, weapons and even small vehicles to the militant group, still held up in Syria’s eastern city of Al Raqqa?

The answer is yes.

Modern American Airdrop Capabilities

A system developed years ago for the United States military called Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) allows cargo aircraft to release airdrops of supplies from as high as 25,000 feet and as far from a drop zone as 25-30 kilometers. A Global Positioning System (GPS) and an airborne guidance unit automate the drop’s trajectory to land within 100 meters of a predetermined drop zone. The system also makes it possible to release several drops at once and have them directed toward different drop zones.

The US military has already received this system and it has been in use for years. At least one Persian Gulf state has taken delivery of the system as well, the United Arab Emirates.

Defense Industry Daily would report that in 2013, the UAE would order the system for use with its C-130H and C-17 aircraft. The same report would note that the system is used by several other NATO allies.

The US has admittedly used this system to drop supplies to both Kurdish fighters and anti-government militants in Syria, including at least one instance where supply pallets ended up “accidentally” with the Islamic State.

In addition to airdrops made by large, manned cargo aircraft, the US has admittedly used drones to drop supplies across the region, the Guardian would admit.

The US Already Makes Airdrops to the Islamic State

The Washington Post in a 2014 article titled, “U.S. accidentally delivered weapons to the Islamic State by airdrop, militants say,” claims:

The Islamic State has released a new video in which it brags that it recovered weapons and supplies that the U.S. military intended to deliver to Kurdish fighters, who are locked in a fight with the militants over control of the Syrian border town of Kobane.

The Washington Post also admits (emphasis added):

The incident highlights the difficulty in making sure all airdrops are accurate, even with GPS-guided parachutes that the Air Force commonly uses. Airdrops of food and water to religious minorities trapped on mountain cliffs in northern Iraq in August hit the mark about 80 percent of the time, Pentagon officials said at the time.

This (and similar incidents) may represent an accident in which JPADS performed poorly. Or it could represent an intentional airdrop meant to resupply Islamic State terrorists with the Washington Post article attempting to explain away how GPS-guided airdrops could “accidentally” end up in enemy territory.

Reports from Qatari-based Al Jazeera claim the US has also dropped weapons to militants other than Kurdish fighters. In an article titled, “US drops weapons to rebels battling ISIL in Syria,” Al Jazeera claims:

The US has reportedly dropped weapons to rebel fighters in Syria as the UN Security Council considers dropping food and medicine by air to civilians.

It also claims that:

The weapons supplies were airdropped to rebels in Marea, a town in the northern province of Aleppo, on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.

“Coalition airplanes dropped … ammunitions, light weapons and anti-tank weapons to rebels in Marea,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the SOHR head, said.



The Guardian would also admit to the US carrying out similar airdrops in Syria.

Knowingly Dropping Supplies into Terrorist-Held Territory

And more recently, there has been a push to drop supplies into eastern Aleppo in an attempt to prolong the fighting and prevent the complete collapse of a militant presence there, specifically using JPADS, according to the Guardian.

Another Guardian article reveals that US drones have previously been used to make airdrops in the region and might be used again to create an “air bridge” to militant-held areas of Syria.

However, even most US and European sources have admitted to a heavy presence of Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise in the city, Jabhat Al Nusra, a designated foreign terrorist organization even according to the US State Department.

If the US would seriously consider airdropping supplies to Al Qaeda to prolong fighting and to continue confounding Syrian forces, why wouldn’t they also airdrop supplies to the Islamic State to do the same?

With the ability to drop supplies from as high as 25,000 feet and from as far away as 25-30 kilometers (and possibly even further as was envisioned by future designs), the US or its allies could appear to be resupplying what it calls “moderate rebels” on one part of the battlefield, while diverting a percentage of its drops into Al Qaeda or Islamic State territory. Drones could also be utilized to create “air bridges” harder to detect than those created using larger cargo aircraft.

With the Islamic State’s fighting capacity still potent both in Iraq and Syria, and with Kurdish fighters sealing off ground routes along the Syrian border, unless Turkey within its “buffer zone” is passing weapons onward to the Islamic State, what other means could this terrorist organization be using to resupply its regional war effort, if not by air?

For those seriously committed to defeating the Islamic State and other armed groups operating within Syrian territory, answering this question will bring peace and security one step closer.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


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11 Comments on "Has the US and Its Allies Used Covert Airdrops, Drones to Supply the Islamic State?"

  1. Surprised? This is the Globalists’ war that will never end, they said it themselves. It’s directed at the vestiges of a free humanity and it’s absolutely global.

    In the news this morning, following another terrorist attack in Turkey, Parliament is considering a bill to give Turkey’s president sweeping powers to govern by decree. Erdogan, ruling by decree under a “State of Emergency” since July, has been chopping at the bit to obtain the same executive orders legal set up in the US and Russia.

    Erdogan’s move to further centralize government control mirrors the shift in late October of China’s President Xi being given more iron fisted powers over the central committee and the title Core Leader, resurrecting the same title used by Mao. Coincidentally (?), as Turkey unfurls its tentacles into the Syrian war theater, China is joining in too, sending in Chinese military assets for training purposes on the pretext thousands of Chinese Uighur “extremists” are flooding into Syria to join ISIS.

    • To what extent do you think some of this is motivated by finding something to do for all the spare 17-35 year olds in China? An opportunity for real military training?

      • Good point, See Janus. That’s one motive, for sure, another is more fear based propaganda to keep the police state fires burning. My intuition on the proximate goal is the creation of another narrative birthing a global police and military force. There’s a fascinating historical precedent setting up this same meme in the Korea and Vietnam UN so-called police actions that I only fully appreciated the past couple of years ago from James Perloff’s brilliant research. Also, about a month ago, China announced it will be playing a substantially bigger role in the UN Blue Helmets brigades. In another development, after changing military self-defense-only constitutional provisions, it was recently reported Japan is sending troops to Sudan for UN peacekeeping operations.

        Switching gears here, do you remember the reports on China’s huge empty ghost cities? Not long ago I learned the Chinese government announced by 2020 it will be moving 100 million peasant farmers off their lands and into the stack and pack ghost cities. A whirl wind of activity!

        • Yes, I ditto your comment on Perloff. In seeing the increasing world wide policing by Chinese, under the U.N. rubric, I wrote to some of these No War in Our World organizations, and they were absolutely not concerned about it as a harbinger of a global police state and military force. I read intelligence briefs written in the 1990’s about China’s military power, and it was sobering.

          • Same with labor organizations, the mis-leaders having zero interest in opposing globalization policies shredding middle class wages and job security. You’re a good man to try, See Janus. If a lot more people were as wise, trenchant, and principled as yourself it would be a beautiful world. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

          • Luv your sagacity…(‘rubric’…good one…can I steal it?-lol)

  2. The US has played and is playing a very dangerous game of betrayal. Supplying terrorists is anathema to most Western nations, although only the bravest will have the intestinal fortitude to censure the US for doing so, and boy the US sure needs to be criticized. It is grossly hypocritical and needs to be brought up short before it sets the stage for the destruction of the whole World.

    • And, it’s also illegal. See new House Bill introduced last week to outlaw such practices. There’s an Activist Post article all about it.

  3. I would estimate airdrops have been supplying the terrorists for 7-8 years on a steady
    basis while the US gov. pretends to be fighting the murderers they fund and arm. All
    in a day’s work for the most fraudulent government the planet has ever witnessed.

  4. Ask any recently retired USAF pilot, in strict confidence, how many hundred flights out of Incirlik USAF (NATO) airbase in Turkey have been made since 2013, resupplying ISIS-ISIL insurgents in Syria and Irak. If the pilot talks, ask how many flights originated in Ramstein USAF base in Germany.

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