More Arms And Aid For Iraq

iraqThe delivery of arms and aid to Iraq is being stepped up, in an international push to tackle jihadist militants and help those who have fled their advance.

France says it will arm Iraq’s Kurds, who have been fighting Islamic State (IS) militants. Kurdish forces are already getting US military support.

Meanwhile, the UK has confirmed it will join a mission to rescue thousands of civilians trapped by IS on a mountain.

Many of those stranded belong to the Yazidi sect.

They are among tens of thousands of people – mostly members of religious minorities – who are sheltering on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, and are in need of desperate humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said teams on the ground were making “a very rapid and critical assessment because we understand it’s urgent to try to move those people off the mountain”.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron says the UK will play a role in an international rescue mission, the details of which “are now being put in place”.

Earlier yesterday, French President Francois Hollande said his country would supply arms to Iraq’s Kurds.

A statement from Mr Hollande’s office said the arms would be supplied “in response to the urgent need expressed by the regional authorities in Kurdistan”.

“For several days, France has had the necessary measures in place to support the operational capabilities of the forces fighting IS,” the statement said.

“The catastrophic situation faced by the population of Iraqi Kurdistan means the international community must step up its mobilisation,” it went on. — BBC

France has received approval from the authorities in Baghdad for the decision, French media reports say.

The US has also reportedly begun supplying weapons to the Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga. Earlier, America announced it had sent 130 more military advisers to the Kurdish region.

The marines and special operations forces will assess the humanitarian situation and will not be engaged in combat, a US defence official said.

The US has been carrying out air strikes against IS fighters in northern Iraq.

The political leader of Iraq’s Kurds, Massoud Barzani, had on Sunday appealed for international military aid to help defeat the Islamist militants.

The US, Britain and France have been delivering humanitarian aid to the Yazidis trapped in the north.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki continued to express defiance of moves to replace him.

In his weekly televised address, Mr Maliki denounced the appointment of a political rival, Haider al-Abadi, to replace him as a “violation” of the Iraqi constitution.

He said he would not give up power until until Iraq’s federal court issued a ruling on an objection that he filed against the nomination.

However, with the US and Iran in rare agreement over removing the man who was once their favoured candidate, Mr Maliki’s words may ring hollow, the BBC’s Sebastian Usher reports.

With even his own Shia power base having turned against him, any long-term defiance by Mr Maliki only risks worsening Iraq’s desperate political crisis, our correspondent adds.

The snub to Mr Maliki came after months of political infighting, which experts say has contributed to Iraq’s inability to fight the IS threat.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber attacked a checkpoint near the home of Mr Abadi in Baghdad, Reuters news agency reported, citing security sources and local media.


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