OTR Interviews

US drops weapons to Kurds ... because of their success against ISIS?

US military drops aid to Kurdish forces in battle to hold Kobani against Islamic State militants. Are the Kurds winning or in need of reinforcements?


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 20, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: We spoke to Pentagon Press Secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, just a short time ago.


VAN SUSTEREN: Admiral, nice to see you, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: I understand we are dropping some small arms or some arms at least to help the Kurds in Kobani. Is that correct?

KIRBY: That's correct. Last night we conducted an air drop of some 28 bundles of arms, weapons, ammunition, and medical supplies to the Kurdish forces that are fighting inside Kobani.

VAN SUSTEREN: How did we do that? I mean, you know, was it just one single drop or multiple drops? What kind of aircraft? Was there any dangers to our pilots?

KIRBY: Multiple air drops from three Air Force C130 Hercules transport aircraft. They split the load between the three of them and it was in one mission, one sortie, as we would call it, you know, together, so it was all in one thing. And it took about three to three and a half hours to complete the mission from the time they took off to the time they got back.

We did do an assessment this morning and were able to assess that all but one of the bundles got into the right handle. The other bundle missed the target. But you may have seen in Central Command's press release today, we actually destroyed that bundle with a bomb so the ISIL terrorists couldn't get to it. So we assess it was a very successful mission. It was done under cover of darkness last night over Kobani.

VAN SUSTEREN: I take it that we did that because the Kurdish forces in that city are not doing particularly well against ISIS, or ISIL as you say. I take it had they been on a roll, so to speak winning, we wouldn't need to do that.

KIRBY: Actually, Greta, it's kind of the opposite. They have been doing very well against ISIL. We hope that they are in control. The Kurdish forces are in control of the bulk of the city, most of the city. That doesn't mean it's not still under threat. It doesn't mean it's not still dangerous. But they have been doing quite well. What prompted this decision was that they were running desperately low on arms, ammunition and medical supplies, and needed it to continue it the fight. We have made Kobani a priority because the enemy has made it a priority. They are presenting themselves in much greater numbers there, making themselves vulnerable. Reviewing targets that we can take advantage of, we are taking advantage of it that from the air. But these Kurdish fighters, they have been taking advantage of that presence on the ground and fighting quite hard.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me talk about some of the simultaneous attacks. They almost seem synchronized by ISIS including the area of the Mosul Dam, I read earlier today. That of course, was something that the Iraqi forces had taken back from ISIS before. Have there been attacks in the last 24, 36 hours that put that dam at risk?

KIRBY: There have been constant attacks throughout Iraq, Greta. Nothing that we deem that puts the Mosul Dam facility at any kind of imminent threat. Again, doesn't mean that this enemy doesn't want that dam back, they do. And they continue to threaten other positions held by Iraqi security forces and Kurdish forces. But nothing that we see right now that would tell us that the dam complex is in some kind of imminent threat of being retaken.

VAN SUSTEREN: I have also learned that Turkey seems to be allowing Kurdish fighters to cross over the border, is that correct? Is Turkey now sort of stepping up a little bit more and participating more and helping more?

KIRBY: I don't have anything on that particular report. I have seen those reports. Again, I would kind of leave it to the Turks to describe what they are doing.

But, look, Turkey is a key NATO ally and a partner in this. They are on the border with Iraq and Syria. They have got more than a million refugees they are trying to deal with, and doing quite well with that. And they have a foreign fighter-flow all by themselves, a problem with that as well. They are in this coalition. They have said they are going to contribute. We know that they will. We have had had a great discussion with them just last week, three days, a European Command and a Central Command team on the ground. Turkey will step up. They continue to contribute. And, again, the specific ways they will do that, that's really for the Turks announce.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about Saudi Arabia? A lot of my viewers aren't happy that Saudi Arabia doesn't seem to be ponying up a lot in this. They have a lot of money. They could at least be footing a lot of this bill. What are the Saudis doing or not doing?

KIRBY: They are involved in the coalition air operations, for one. And for number two, they have agreed to host the train-and-equip program that we want to get started for the Syrian moderate opposition, which is not -- that's a heavy lift and we're very grateful for that. We to have a partner in the region so we can actually conduct this training. They have signed up for that. We have a team that's been working with Saudi authorities to check out the facility to kind of build the regimen and curriculum and what is going to look like. The Saudis have been a partner in this.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any word out of the president of Syria. Has he said even "boo"? He has been so quiet in this. I have seen nothing.

KIRBY: No, there's been, At least from a military perspective, the way we would describe the Syria regime is as passive. Certainly passive vocally, as have you pointed out, but also passive from an interference perspective. There has been no interference from Syrian military forces at all in any of the activity that we have been doing inside that country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Admiral, thank you. Always nice to see you. Thank you, sir.

KIRBY: Thanks, Greta. Good to be with you.


VAN SUSTEREN: Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted saving Kobani was not key to U.S. strategy. What's up? Does the air-drop of weapons show a change it in U.S. strategy?

Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North joins us. Nice to see you, sir.

LT. COL. OLIVER NORTH, FOX NEWS HOST, "WAR STORIES": The short answer to your question, yes, Greta, it's a change in U.S. strategy, in part, because Erdogan has suddenly decided --

VAN SUSTEREN: That's Turkey, president of Turkey.

NORTH: The president of Turkey, who is adamantly opposed to an independent Kurdistan, he has long seen Kurds in Kobani, who are fighting desperately to save their city, as part of the problem because they are all affiliate with the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party. What it is allowing to happen is Iraqi Kurds to come back up and through and back into Kobani, because he sees those as different Kurds. The reality of it is this. Kobani has been a side show, a diversion ever since it started. Al Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, has wanted something to focus our attention while he went to the main fight, and that's Anbar Province inside Iraq. What you have got happening inside Iraq is dangerous. 15 simultaneous attacks by ISIS today in Iraq. You're looking Iraq being attacked every day. As Saud said, during your interview with him from Baghdad, every single day, suicide bombers are probing and penetrating and rehearsing for an attack on Baghdad. The ISIS forces are ultimately commanded by al Baghdadi, who sees himself as a caliph. He is going to protect the Sunnis from the hegemon of Shiites that go all the way from the Mediterranean --


VAN SUSTEREN: Which is why the Shiite neighborhoods are getting in Baghdad.

NORTH: Exactly. He is describing us as affiliated with the Shiites. I'll tell what will make it worse. If we do a deal with the ayatollahs in Tehran and nuclear weapons, we will validate what his propaganda has been saying now for month. If you look at the leadership of ISIS inside Iraq, they are nearly all former Republican Guards' senior officers. They know Baghdad. They lived in Baghdad. They are the ones that are conducting the military preparations for an attack that most people -- and there is a report on it right here, from people on the ground. These are boots on the ground. They are predicting that there is going to be a major attack in Baghdad against the largest U.S. embassy on the planet. They are at the gates of Baghdad. They are coming for us.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. ISIS is growing?

NORTH: Every day.

VAN SUSTEREN: Getting stronger?


VAN SUSTEREN: So you say all the discussion about Kobani is just a side show to distract everybody. That meanwhile, while there is attention on Kobani and what is happening there, that ISIS is exploding in growth and power, and moving in on Baghdad?

NORTH: Indeed, they are. It's invested now on three sides. Anbar Province, which is the Euphrates River Valley, going all the way from one side of Iraq all the way out to the Syrian border, is now in the hands -- except for Haditha Dam, which they will not blow up. They want to control that. It's a third of electrical power going into Baghdad.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think President Obama is thinking?

NORTH: I don't think he gives a damn. I think he is hoping that he can hold the lid on this until after this election so it won't be just another disaster for this administration.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let's say that's true. Move into December and January, ISIS has shown no indication it's shrinking or getting weaker. If it is getting stronger and stronger and growing in numbers, what happens?

NORTH: Unless we can build a relationship with the Sunnis that we abandoned in Anbar, it is a hopeless cause.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there still time?

NORTH: Well, there may be time to get him over the election. Because if they can force all this attack on the American embassy in Baghdad, Obama can take a deep breath. And it really doesn't matter to him as long as he gets election.

VAN SUSTEREN: How soon or how good is the information? Is this just supposition that our Baghdad embassy is going to get hit?

NORTH: I think there is a lot of Americans out there deeply concerned about it. I --


VAN SUSTEREN: Deeply concerned, or any sort of evidence, I mean, beyond deeply concerned. I'm concerned every single day when I walk out that I'm not going to get hit by a bus? What's the deeply concerned level?

NORTH: I think it's probably more likely Baghdad gets attacked than you get hit by a bus.

VAN SUSTEREN: We got that one.

Anyway, Colonel North, thank you, sir.