Iraqi Kurds 'being armed by various sources': US official

Iraqi Kurds 'being armed by various sources': US official
Kurdish Peshmerga troops participate in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in a village on the outskirts of the province of Nineveh near the border province of Dohuk, August 9, 2014.

SYDNEY - Iraqi Kurds are "being armed by various sources" in the fight against Islamic State jihadists, a US State Department official said Monday.

The official added that "they are getting something rapidly" after the IS militants' strong gains in Kurdish regions in northern Iraq.

"They (Kurds) are getting some arms from various sources, they are being armed by various sources," said the official, who refused to name which countries were involved.

Asked if the United States was supplying weapons, he replied: "I can't go into that.

"There are a lot of discussions taking place between a lot of countries," he added.

"They are getting something rapidly." The comments came as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Sydney for annual military talks with Australia.

Security sources said Monday that IS fighters had defeated Kurdish troops in the flashpoint Iraqi town of Jalawla, killing at least 10 in a fierce two-day battle.

On Sunday France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that in consultation with its EU partners Paris was looking at supplying arms to the Kurds.

"One way or another, they must receive, in a sure way, equipment that will allow them to defend themselves and to counterattack," Fabius told France 2 television from Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.

"We will look into that over the coming days but in liaison with the Europeans," he said from the city, which is not far from the IS frontline.

France and Britain have pledged support for a US-led operation helping Iraqi civilians - many of them from the Yazidi minority - who are fleeing a murderous advance by IS militants.

While all three Western countries are providing emergency aid for the besieged civilians, the United States has also been conducting air strikes on IS positions.

Earlier Monday, Kerry threw his weight behind Iraq's newly-elected President Fuad Masum, a Kurdish politician, to help fight the militants and warned Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki not to stir up trouble.

Many Iraqis see Maliki as partly responsible for the recent conflict in northern Iraq, saying he has institutionalised sectarianism.

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