Germany to arm Kurdish forces in Iraq

Berlin, Sep 1 (IANS) Germany Sunday said it will send arms to the Iraqi Kurdish forces who are battling Islamist militants in the northern areas of conflict-torn country, media reported.

The decision was made after a meeting attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, Xinhua reported citing Spiegel Online as saying.

Germany will send 16,000 assault rifles, 500 anti-tank missiles and 10,000 hand grenades to the Kurds, said a statement by the German ministry of defence.

Due to the humanitarian situation in Iraq, the German government has started with delivery of assistance to the amount of 50 million euros so far.

Germany will use the weapons, in a total value of around 70 million euros, to firstly upgrade a Kurdish fighters association which has approximately 4,000 people.

Ursula Von der Leyen noted that the situation in Iraq was “extremely critical” and accused the Islamic State (IS) of “merciless brutality”.

In addition to humanitarian aid, the German government has already supplied military equipments such as bullet-proof vests, helmets and night vision goggles to the fight against IS militants.

The German announcement came as the European Union in August welcomed the move by EU member states to support Kurds against the IS militants in northern Iraq.

Last month, French President Francois Hollande announced the supply of arms to Kurdish forces in Iraq.

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