Germany has announced that it plans to supply northern Iraq with military equipment. The Iraqi Kurds are battling Islamic State (IS) fighters who have taken over a number of cities and displaced minority populations.
German Foreign Minister Frank Walter-Steinmeier confirmed on Wednesday that Berlin was ready to ship arms to northern Iraq. The announcement followed a meeting of the German cabinet where ministers had been deliberating over the issue.
Steinmeier said the government could imagine sending military equipment, “which [could] include weapons.”
“[Europe] can’t be indifferent to the IS advance,” the German foreign minister added, calling the extremist group’s tactics “barbaric” and a “growing existential threat to the region.”
The EU decided last week to back the Kurdish fighters, with individual EU member states deciding on whether or not to send weapons. However, Germany had until now only agreed to provide non-lethal aid to Iraq.
It was not immediately clear what type of weapons would be delivered, as the German government first had to assess what the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters needed.
Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region has seen an increase in fighting in recent weeks as IS militantscontinue to battle for territory. The jihadists have taken control of a number of cities in the north, including Mosul. Local minorities have fled the IS-controlled cities, where the new leaders have imposed laws to force non-Muslims to convert or face death.
However, Kurdish fighters have been able to make gains in recent days, including the retaking of the Mosul Dam, with the help of US military air cover.