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US shipping arms to Iraqi Kurdish forces

The United States has begun urgently shipping arms and ammunition to the Iraqi Kurdish forces battling an advance by extremist Islamic State militants, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday (Aug 11).

WASHINGTON: The United States has begun urgently shipping arms and ammunition to the Iraqi Kurdish forces battling an advance by extremist Islamic State militants, a State Department spokeswoman said Monday (Aug 11).

"We're working with the government of Iraq to increasingly and very quickly get urgently needed arms to the Kurds," Marie Harf told CNN. "This includes the Iraqis providing their own weapons from their own stocks, and we're working to do the same thing from our stocks of weapons that we have."

Harf said the effort had been underway since last week, but did not say which US agency was leading the effort or how many and what type of weapons had been sent.

The United States has a consulate and other facilities in Arbil, capital of Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region, and last week President Barack Obama announced air strikes to protect the city from the IS advance.

Efforts to support Kurdish peshmerga forces could complicated the United States' ties to the Iraqi government in Baghdad, which is also fighting the Islamic State but has tense relations with Arbil. But Harf insisted that, in the current crisis, the two are working together.

"We have seen an unprecedented level of cooperation between the Iraqi forces and the Kurdish forces. We hadn't seen that in the past. They're helping each other out," Harf said. "So any way we can get the very urgently needed arms to the Kurds we are actively working on. We'll work with the government of Iraq to do that, but we believe again there is such an urgent situation that we need to do this."

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