The Peshmerga forces of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region are pleading for weapons so they can repel Islamic State (IS) fighters.
They are facing a well-armed force of Sunni militants who are using looted military hardware supplied by the US to Iraqi government troops who were overrun in the north and west of the country.
After the IS group took the town of Makhmour with relative ease a week ago, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces retook it on Sunday following the retreat of IS fighters after US airstrikes.
Peshmerga General Sadi Ali Amer said they can only hold on to the town if they get the weapons they need: “Machine guns, rockets, armoured personnel carriers, sniper rifles, mortars, anti-tank rockets, tanks – the weapons troops in other countries have. Especially the Americans, with their advanced military.”
France – with British and Czech backing – is pressing the European Union to arm the outgunned Kurdish fighters.
Germany has said that it would not supply weapons, but would send armored vehicles, night-vision gear and medical supplies to be delivered via the Baghdad government.
US planes continue air strikes against the Islamic State fighters, who are moving towards the Kurdish capital Erbil.
US officials have said that Washington is also directly supplying weapons to the Kurds.