US considers selling 4,000 more Hellfire missiles to Iraq
The United States considers selling 4,000 additional Hellfire missiles to Iraq to help Baghdad fight against the militants loyal to the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Bloomberg reported that the US State Department informally told lawmakers about the White House’s decision last week.
Iraq already received 400 of the laser-guided missiles made by Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) – as part of a deal of 500 missiles. The remaining 100 missiles will be delivered to Iraq by the middle of this month, according to Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.
The US has pledged military aid to Iraq in its fight against the Takfiri militants who have seized several key Iraqi cities since a new wave of violence began in the country on June 10.
Lukman Faily, Iraq’s ambassador to the US, on Tuesday complained that Washington’s delay in sending the missiles will only benefit the terrorists.
US lawmakers are conducting an informal review of the potential sale that could last as long as 40 days, Bloomberg said citing people familiar with the issue.
Congress would have 30 days to block a sale after the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency submits a formal notice.
The air-to-ground missiles can carry 20-pound armor-piercing or fragmentation warheads.
President Barack Obama already authorized sending 300 US military advisers to Iraq, with 180 in place so far, to help Iraq’s military and gather intelligence. But Iraqi officials say the US is slow in delivering military aid.
Faily called for immediate US airstrikes against ISIL’s positions.
“We desperately need United States assistance to turn the tide,” Faily said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “We believe that immediate and increased military assistance, including targeted airstrikes, are crucial to defeat this growing threat.”