Seven nations have joined the United States and the Iraqi government with pledges to provide arms to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq where they are battling terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today.
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 written statement as his spokesman, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby was describing the threat from ISIL as “only going to grow.”
Hagel said the resupply operations have already begun and will accelerate in the coming days with more nations expected to contribute.
“This is a serious threat from a serious group of terrorists,” Pentagon Press Secretary Kirby told reporters at a news conference. “And we need to stay mindful of doing what we need to do to protect American citizens at home and abroad.”
Since June, Syrian-based ISIL terrorists have crossed the border and captured large sections of Northern Iraq including the country’s second largest city, Mosul with little or no resistance from the Iraqi military and have threatened to kill those they consider apostates. President Barack Obama ordered military advisors to the country to assist the Iraqi military and to protect Americans there, but has vowed that no U.S. combat troops will return to Iraq. He did so again today. “We’ll not allow the United States to be dragged back into another ground war in Iraq,” he said in remarks to the American Legion in Charlotte, North Carolina.
At the Pentagon, Kirby would not detail possible future U.S. military operations beyond the current role of advising the Iraqi military and conducting surveillance flights and targeted airstrikes against ISIL targets in Iraq. Last week, Hagel described the threat posed by ISIL fighters as ‘imminent’ and said the United States is “looking at all options.”
“With respect to providing military options, we’re going to be ready to do that, but I’m not going to get into the details,” Kirby told reporters.