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Pentagon Says It Will Investigate Stray Arms Drop Over Syria

The Pentagon says it will investigate a video released by the self-declared Islamic State showing its fighters purportedly rifling through crates of U.S. arms intended for Kurdish forces fighting the extremist group.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said: "We're still taking a look at [the video] and assessing the validity of it."

"I honestly don't know if that was one of the [bundles] dropped, and whether... the contents of it are, in fact, in the hands of ISIL," Kirby was quoted by Stars and Stripes as saying. "They are certainly ... the kinds of material that was dropped ... so it's not out of the realm of the possible in that regard."

U.S. Central Command, which is overseeing air operations over Iraq and Syria, confirmed on Monday that an air drop had gone astray but said it had destroyed that bundle in an airstrike to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Kirby said the Pentagon is "pretty confident" that no other bundles had gone off target.

The Washington Post reports:

"The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadist social media accounts, drew attention to the video Tuesday. At one point, it appears to show a masked militant raking his hands through a crate filled with hand grenades.

"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."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.