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Pentagon planning for weapons delivery to Kurdish fighters

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Pentagon is looking to join U.S. allies in delivering weapons supplies to Kurdish fighters who are battling back a violent, Islamic militant group persecuting religious minorities in northern Iraq.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said Wednesday that the U.S. military is working with its international partners to see how to best funnel those additional supplies to the fighters.

"As of now, the Department of Defense has not delivered any munitions to the Kurds directly. Although we're encouraged that the Iraqis have done so," he said.

Col. Warren acknowledged that reports of the U.S. government providing weapons to the fighters over the past several days are true. The CIA has been arming those fighters with machine guns and rifles, according to the Associated Press.

The announcement comes a day after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that 130 additional advisers — U.S. Marines and special operations forces — are being deployed to join other American officials already on the ground in Kurdistan.

If the Pentagon moves forward with a weapons delivery plan, it would be joining British and French efforts to transport critical military supplies to the Kurdish fighters.

Great Britain was the first country to announce that it was willing to help transport arms to the Kurds so that they could maintain the upper hand in its fight with the Islamic militant group known as the Islamic State. British Foreign Secretary William Hague made public his country's intentions Tuesday, after meeting with a crisis response committee on developments in Iraq.

France on Wednesday also announced it would send arms to the Kurdish fighters.

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