- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Iraqi government wants drones — American drones.

Iraq has requested 10 reconnaissance drones and Hellfire missiles from the U.S. to help with waves of attacks perpetrated by al Qaeda and its affiliates. There is also debate within the Iraqi government about having American-operated and armed Predator or Reaper drones, the New York Times reported.

In 2011, American officials failed to secure a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq, which now complicates matters as the nation’s officials request U.S. assistance. The Baghdad government of Nouri al-Malaki is struggling to control an influx of Islamic fighters from Syria, many of whom have contributed to the death of 8,000 civilians in 2013, according to the United Nations.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki issued a statement Sunday warning that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an al Qaeda affiliate, is “seeking to gain control of territory inside the borders of Iraq.”

Iraq’s latest requests comes only months after the U.S. completed more than $4 billion in foreign military sales to Iraq, the Military Times reported. The package included infantry carriers, ground-to-air rockets, 681 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, 40 truck-mounted launchers, Sentinel radars, and three Hawk anti-aircraft batteries with 216 Hawk missiles.

The U.S. also plans to supply Iraq in 2014 with F-16s, helicopters and logistical support, according to the Military Times.

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• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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