PARIS (AP) — Calling the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan "catastrophic," France said Wednesday it would start supplying arms to the Kurdish forces fighting Sunni extremists from the Islamic State group.
Paris and London have agreed to coordinate their actions on both humanitarian aid and arms, the office of President Francois Hollande said.
It said the French president spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron Wednesday evening and agreed on the need for an "extremely rapid response," but didn't clarify whether Britain outright consented to furnish weapons to the Kurds, who are trying to push back radicals of the IS group.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius refused to specify the type of arms France would deliver, saying only they would be "sophisticated."
The sudden announcement that arms would begin to flow within hours underlined France's alarm at the urgency of the situation in Iraq, where the IS group fighters are threatening the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
The shipping of French arms follows the United States' increased role in fighting back the Islamic extremists, including air strikes to protect U.S. personnel and stop fighters from moving on civilians again.
Senior American officials say U.S. intelligence agencies are directly arming the Kurds. On Tuesday, 130 U.S. troops arrived in the Kurdish capital of Irbil on what the Pentagon described as a temporary mission to coordinate plans to help trapped Yazidi civilians on Mount Sinjar.
Any French military strikes would need prior approval from the U.N. Security Council, a standard French position, and would take place only if conditions are right, Fabius said.
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