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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

US to arm Iraq's Sunni tribesmen

Iran Press TV

Sun Nov 23, 2014 6:34PM GMT

The US plans to buy arms for Sunni tribesmen in Iraq including AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds.

According to a Pentagon document prepared for Congress, the supply of arms seeks to bolster the battle against ISIL militants who have seized control of parts of Syria and Iraq.

The document, entitled "Justification for FY 2015 Overseas Contingency Operations Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF)" seeks to "spend $24.1 million represents a small fraction of the larger, $1.6 billion spending request to Congress focusing on training and arming Iraqi and Kurdish forces".

Based on the ITEF, the US will provide 5,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 50 rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) to Iraqi tribal forces. The document, however, fails to indicate how 5,000 AK-47 rifles and 50 RPGs can be significant in the fight against ISIL.

The document confirms that "Currently, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and affiliated Kurdish Security Forces have stemmed the ISIL advance and stopped or reversed encroachment on Baghdad. Iraqi and Kurdish forces have begun to retake territory threatened or captured by the ISIL with the aid of U.S. and Coalition air strikes; however, to successfully take major offensive operations, Iraq require s assistance to counter the ISIL threat … Not arming tribal fighters will continue to leave anti-ISIL tribes reluctant to actively counter ISIL."

The Iraqi government has paid huge amounts of money to the US for the purchase of 36 F-16 fighters. But Washington refused to deliver the planes citing the escalating threat of the ISIL. Iraq badly needed the planes to fight the militant group.

Frustrated by the US move, Baghdad eventually bought second-hand fighter jets from Russia and Belarus in June 2014.

In an interview with BBC Arabic, then Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reacted to the US refusal saying "We shouldn't have just bought US jets, we should have bought British, French and Russian jets to provide air support. If we had air support, none of this would have happened," referring to the capture of large swathes of the Iraqi land by the ISIL.

DDB/DDB



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