US steps up military deliveries to Iraq to help fight al Qaeda
The White House said on Monday that the United States is accelerating its deliveries of military equipment to Iraq to help the country fight al Qaeda-linked militants, part of a strategy to isolate the insurgent groups.
Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an affiliate of the international al Qaeda network, have been tightening their grip on the country's Anbar province, and last week captured positions in Ramadi and large parts of Falluja.
"We're working closely with the Iraqis to develop a holistic strategy to isolate the al Qaeda-affiliated groups, and we have seen some early successes in Ramadi," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in a briefing.
"This situation remains fluid, and it's too early to tell or make conclusions about it. But we're accelerating our foreign military sales deliveries," he said.
As part of that effort, the United States is looking to provide additional shipments of Hellfire missiles to Iraq as early as this spring, Carney said, as well 10 ScanEagle surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in upcoming weeks and 48 Raven surveillance UAVs later this year to help Iraq track insurgent groups.
The United States also delivered three Bell IA-407 helicopters to Iraq in December, bringing total helicopter sales and deliveries to the country to 30, Carney said.