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France sends military aid to Iraq

media France to send weapons to Iraq to help fight Islamic State militants. Reuters/Ari Jalal

France has sent weapons to Iraq to help the Kurdistan forces fighting the Islamic State (IS) militants in the north of the country. According to a presidential announcement on Wednesday, arms will be delivered “in the coming hours”.

The official statement from President Francois Hollande’s office reads: "In order to respond to the urgent need expressed by the Kurdistan regional authorities, the president has decided, in agreement with Baghdad, to deliver arms in the coming hours.”

France looks set to play an important role in the provision of military support to the Kurds, saying it will offer “all the assistance required”. It has also taken the lead in calling on EU foreign ministers to convene an emergency meeting to coordinate possible arms delivery to Iraq.

France also provided humanitarian aid that arrived in northern Iraq over the weekend. A further twenty tonnes of aid is due to arrive in northern Iraq later on Wednesday.

Michael Stephens, a military expert from Royal United Services Institute told RFI that there are other European allies who also wish to see IS pushed away from Kurdish majority areas. He adds: "What Hollande has done is show that there is resolve to support the Kurds in their military activities."

He says that most countries like Britain and Germany who can help in this situation are having debates about what steps they should take, and he expects that there will be a groundswell of support.

The United States has carried out several air strikes on IS militant positions and is also providing weapons to the Kurdish forces.

Britain said it will help with the delivery of military supplies from other countries to the Kurdish forces.

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