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U.S. expedites weapons deliveries to Iraq

English.news.cn   2014-01-07 04:42:01            

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- The Obama administration is speeding up weapons deliveries to the Iraqi government to help combat an al-Qaida affiliate making inroads both in Iraq and neighboring Syria, the White House said Monday.

"We're accelerating our foreign military sales deliveries," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at a regular news briefing, in response to a rising insurgency in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), commonly known as al- Qaida in Iraq.

The United States is also "looking to provide an additional shipment of Hellfire missiles as early as this spring," he added.

Washington rushed 75 Hellfire missiles and other weaponry to Baghdad in recent months to help the government cope with growing violence in the country, as more than 8,000 Iraqis were killed in 2013, the deadliest year since 2008.

ISIL fighters seized both Fallujah and Ramadi, two major cities in the western province of Anbar Wednesday, the first time since the American troops withdrew from the western Asian country in late 2011. The Iraqi security forces have retaken Ramadi, the provincial capital.

The group has reportedly seized territory in rebel-held parts of Syria as well.

Carney said the Hellfire missiles have been "proven effective" in thwarting ISIL's attempt to establish safe-haven zones in western Iraq, and Washington will provide Iraq with 10 ScanEagle surveillance UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicle) in the upcoming weeks and 48 Raven surveillance UAVs later this year.

"These UAVs will help the Iraqis track terrorist elements operating within the country," said Carney, who added weapons already delivered to Iraq in the past months also included sensor- laden Aerostat surveillance balloons and Bell IA-407 helicopters.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki asked for U.S. help in fighting ISIL when he met President Barack Obama at the White House in November.

Editor: yan
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