Kurds to U.S.: We need heavy weapons to defeat Islamic State
The Kurdish Government in Iraq is urging the Obama administration to provide it with heavy arms, including helicopters, tanks and artillery pieces to fight the better-armed Islamic State insurgents, a Kurdish official said, providing new details on the request.
The Kurds submitted the petition to the Obama administration in September, but the White House hasn’t yet approved the heavy weapons deliveries, said Fuad Hussein, chief adviser to the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani.
“We are ready to fight,” Hussein told reporters in Washington after talks with Obama administration officials. “We cannot fight with these weapons that we have. We need different kinds of weapons.”“Without these old weapons, I think it will be difficult for us to continue this fight, or at least we cannot liberate other areas, including cities such as Mosul and Sinjar," Hussein said.
The Pentagon has coordinated shipments of light arms to the Kurds, including ammunition, hand grenades, mortars, rocketpropelled grenades and assault rifles.
“Certainly we understand their need for more weapons,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman said.
He said that even with the existing weaponry, the Kurdish forces have hurt Islamic State and retaken some territory. “They are taking the fight to ISIL,” Adm. Kirby said, using an alternative name for the extremist group. “Perhaps they think they need more [weapons] to be even more aggressive,” Adm. Kirby said.
"Islamic State forces have heavier weapons, including armoured vehicles and tanks, which they seized from the Iraqi and Syrian armies, giving them an advantage on the ground against lightlyarmed Kurdish, or Peshmerga fighters," Hussein said.
Some U.S. officials said they were concerned that providing heavier arms to the Kurds would inadvertently encourage them to seek independence from Iraq.
Hussein said those concerns were unfounded. The heavy weapons, he said, are needed to fight Islamic State, a task which he believes will take several years. For the Iraqi Kurds, he added, defeating the group will be the first priority.
it will be difficult for the Kurdish Peshmarga to continue this fight, or at least they cannot liberate other areas.