US, allies to accelerate arming of Kurdish forces

Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelThere's still time for another third-party option Hagel says NATO deployment could spark a new Cold War with Russia Overnight Defense: House panel unveils 5B defense spending bill MORE announced Tuesday that the U.S. and a coalition of other nations will accelerate the flow of arms to Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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"In addition to support from the U.S., and the central government of Iraq in Baghdad, seven additional nations — Albania, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom — have committed to helping provide Kurdish forces urgently needed arms and equipment," Hagel said in a statement.

"Operations have already begun and will accelerate in the coming days with more nations also expected to contribute. I'd like to thank each of these allies for working alongside the United States military," Hagel added.

The announcement comes two weeks after Hagel commissioned a U.S.-led working group to accelerate resupply efforts to Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga, in northern Iraq.

After ISIS advanced to northern Iraq in August, Kurdish forces found themselves outgunned by the group, which had overrun Iraqi military bases and acquired equipment and ammunition in June.

Pentagon officials had previously said the department was considering providing arms to the Peshmerga directly but has in recent weeks decided to take an international coalition approach.

"The United States appreciates the willingness of more and more of our allies and partners to support the Iraqi people in their fight against ISIL," he said, using an alternate acronym for the militant Islamic group.

"The determination of the Iraqi people and the international community to counter the threat posed by ISIL is only growing, and the United States looks forward to working with our friends from around the world to assist this effort," he said.