BAGHDAD: France has said it will start supplying arms to the Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group, calling the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan “catastrophic”.
The shipment of French arms, which the government refused to describe, follows the United States’ increased role in fighting Islamic State fighters.
France says its arms shipment was coordinated with the Iraqi government.
Earlier, France had pledged to deliver a new 20-ton shipment of humanitarian aid including medicine, tents and water treatment equipment to Erbil later in the day. French authorities have pushed other European Union members to do more to aid minorities being targeted by the Islamic State group.
A high-level EU diplomatic meeting late on Tuesday ended with a statement that it would consider the Kurdish request for urgent military support “in close coordination with Iraqi authorities.”
European Union foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the conflicts in Iraq and Ukraine, the EU said on Wednesday.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton “has decided to convene an extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council this Friday, 15
August, in Brussels on the EU’s response to major ongoing crises, focusing on Iraq and Ukraine,” a spokesman for Ashton said. The turmoil in Iraq stems from the rapid advance of the Islamic State group and allied Sunni fighters across northern and western Iraq in June.
Senior American officials say US intelligence agencies are directly arming the Kurds, a shift in Washington’s policy of only working through the Baghdad government, AP news agency reported.
On Tuesday, 130 US troops arrived in the Kurdish capital of Erbil on what the Pentagon described as a temporary mission to coordinate plans to help trapped Yazidi civilians on Sinjar Mountain
The advance seized Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, and routed Iraq’s beleaguered armed forces. Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.5 million have been displaced by the violence. Agencies