Hellfire Missiles Delivered to Iraq by US to Combat al-Qaida

Monday, 17 Mar 2014 09:00 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Iraq has received 100 Hellfire missiles, assault rifles and ammunition from the United States to fight the rising tide of terrorism, the embassies in the U.S. and Iraq announced Sunday.

Officials said that Iraqi forces were battling the al-Qaida breakaway group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, according to the Associated Press. 

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"It is essential that Iraqi Security Forces are equipped with modern and effective weaponry given the serious threat... the ISIL now poses to Iraq and the region," the statement read, which suggested that the U.S. pledged to deliver additional weapons in the near future.

The news comes less than a month after Iraq agreed to purchase weapons from Iran for $195 million, breaking a United Nation's embargo on Iranian arms sales, Reuters reported. 

Documents show that the sales agreement was reached in November, after Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki returned from Washington trying to get more weapons to fight al-Qaida-linked militants.

"We are launching a war against terrorism and we want to win this war," Iraqi spokesman Ali Mussawi told Reuters in February. "Nothing prevents us from buying arms and ammunition from any party and it's only ammunition helping us to fight terrorists."

However, the Iranian government denied any knowledge of a deal, while U.S. State Department said it is examining the report.

"If true, this would raise serious concerns," state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in February. 

Iraqi forces have received more than 11 million rounds of ammunition and thousands of machine guns, sniper rifles, assault rifles and grenades from the United States since mid-January, according to the Associated Press.

Hellfire missiles are often used by Iraqi warplanes to hit militant strongholds in the country's western province of Anbar.

Iraqi government security forces have battled al-Qaida-linked militants and other insurgent groups since late December. A suicide bomber drove a car with heavy explosives into a security patrol near Ramadi on Sunday, killing three policemen and two soldiers.

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