MOSCOW, August 11 (RIA Novosti) – The United States has launched direct arms deliveries to Kurdish forces in Iraq fighting against Islamic State (IS) militants, The Associated Press reported Monday, citing senior US officials.
According to a US State Department official, Kurds are “being armed by various sources” and are “getting something rapidly” after the IS advance in Kurdish regions in northern Iraq, Agence France-Presse reported.
It is not yet clear who is involved in the process and what weapons are being delivered. Up until now the United States was selling arms only to the Iraqi central authorities.
On Sunday, Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani addressed the international community with a plea to provide his forces with weapons to fight against the Islamic State.
Iraqi Human Rights Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani announced on Sunday that IS extremists had killed at least 500 members of the Yezidis, a Kurdish ethnic minority in Iraq. There is also evidence suggesting many of the victims were buried alive. The militants also took more than 300 women as slaves.
The Islamic State, a Sunni group previously fighting in Syria and known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) seized large parts of Iraq in early June, ratcheting up tensions in the region. In late June, the Islamic State announced the establishment of a caliphate on the territories it had captured in Iraq and Syria.
Late on Thursday, US President Barack Obama authorized US airstrikes targeting positions of IS militants. The president also approved humanitarian aid to the Yezidis who, as Obama stated, face “genocide.” Several airstrikes have been conducted over the past few days.