US sends missiles, drones to help Iraq
Updated: 2013-12-27 10:38
WASHINGTON - The United States is sending dozens of missiles and surveillance drones to Iraq to help government forces combat insurgents, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
A shipment of 75 Hellfire missiles were delivered to Iraq last week and 10 ScanEagle reconnaissance drones are expected to be delivered to Iraq by March, according to the newspaper report.
The move follows an appeal for help in battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an al Qaida-backed regional extremist group, by the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who met with US President Barack Obama in Washington last month. The group is gaining territory in both western Iraq and neighboring Syria.
According to the United Nations, this year has seen a sharp downturn in security that led to the deaths of more than 8,000 Iraqis, the highest level of violence since 2008.
In a statement issued by the US State Department on Sunday, spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the radical group is a common enemy of the US and Iraq and a threat to the Middle East region.
US officials told the New York Times that the aid was significant because Iraq had virtually run out of Hellfire missiles.
The combination of the air-to-ground missiles, tactical drones and intelligence supplied by the US is intended to augment limited Iraqi ability, the report said.