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Iraq's Kurds to get French arms

August 13, 2014

France is to deliver weapons to Kurdish forces in Iraq in the coming hours, according to the French presidency. "Islamic State" fighters have been advancing on northern Iraq, home to the country's Kurdish population.

Irak kurdische Kämpfer 10.8.2014
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

France confirmed on Wednesday that it had shipped arms to northern Iraq. They were expected to be delivered "in the coming hours," the office of French President Francois Hollande said in a statement.

"In order to respond to the urgent need expressed by the Kurdistan regional authorities, the president has decided, in agreement with Baghdad, to deliver arms," the French presidency said.

Western allies have gradually agreed to limited involvement in Iraq, where the extremist group "Islamic State" has taken over a number of its northern cities and threatened to destabilize the country. While the Iraqi military has been able to keep IS from moving farther south, Kurdish forces in the north have faced a stronger opposition in recent days.

Infografik Vom „Islamischen Staat“ (IS) kontrollierte Gebiete Englisch

Last week, an advance on the city of Irbil prompted a mass exodus of tens of thousands of residents. The US authorized targeted air strikes against the militants in several areas, particularly near the Sinjar mountains where thousands of people from the Yazidi minority have been trapped.

On Tuesday, Germany announced it would provide non-lethal aid to Iraq. The European Commission for its part decided to increase aid to Iraq to 17 million euros ($13 million).

Ashton to convene EU meeting

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, was planning to convene a meeting on the Iraq crisis.

"Catherine Ashton is ready to convene a [Foreign Affairs Council] as early as this week and is checking with member states if it is possible," her spokesperson said.

The crisis in Ukraine would also reportedly be discussed.

kms/se (AFP, AFP, dpa)