U.K. to Supply Arms to Kurds to Fight Islamic State

Weaponry is first shipment to Kurds directly from the U.K. and complements effort to shore up Iraq politically, reports say.

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Military equipment is loaded into a plane to be sent to to support Iraqi Kurds battling jihadist militants fighting for the Islamic State, on September 4, 2014 at Leipzig/Halle airport, in Germany.Credit: AFP

Britain said on Tuesday that it would arm the Kurds with heavy machine guns and ammunition to fight Islamic State, the group attempting to form a caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

The weaponry, valued at about $2.6 million, marks the first time the U.K. has directly supplied arms to the Kurds in the conflict, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"ISIL militants are guilty of shocking brutality," Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said in a statement quoted in media reports. "So I am pleased that we will supply weapons to the Kurdish forces who are at the front line of combating their violent extremism."

Iraq's government had requested the arms, the first portion of which should arrive in the country on Wednesday, the U.K. said.

The U.K. has said it won't send troops to Iraq but is working to strengthen the country's political side, reports say.
Fallon was quoted by the BBC as saying Britain aimed to promote "an inclusive, sovereign and democratic Iraq" that can both repel IS and restore stability and security for Iraqis.

And U.K. aircraft have delivered military equipment to the Kurds on behalf of other countries, while also sending the Kurds non-lethal U.K. equipment, the Journal reported.