US gives Iraq Hellfire missiles, ammunition
The US has delivered Hellfire missiles along with M4 rifles and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition to Iraq as the Arab country faces its worst violence in years.
“Earlier this month, the United States delivered nearly 100 Hellfire missiles together with hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition and M4 rifles,” the US Embassy in Baghdad said in a Sunday statement.
“It is essential that Iraqi security forces are equipped with modern and effective weaponry given the serious threat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant now poses to Iraq and the region,” the statement added.
The embassy also said that Washington had given Iraq over 11 million rounds of ammunition as well as thousands of machine guns and rifles, along with thousands of flares, grenades and other weapons since mid-January.
“Additional deliveries are scheduled in coming weeks,” the statement noted.
This is while Iraqi security forces have been engaged in clashes with militant groups in the country, including the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with Anbar Province viewed as the epicenter of militancy.
Violence erupted in Anbar last December when security forces cleared a protest camp which the government said was used by militants for launching terrorist attacks.
The removal of the camp in the provincial capital of Ramadi sparked protests from Iraqi lawmakers who urged the army to leave the city.
But the army withdrawal paved the way for the ISIL militants to overrun Ramadi, and the neighboring city of Fallujah.
On March 1, the UN mission to Iraq said a total of 703 people were killed and 1,381 others wounded in Iraq in February.
Baghdad was the worst affected region with 239 deaths, followed by central Salahuddin Province with 121 killed and northern Nineveh Province with 94 killed.