According to widespread media reports, the U.S. is sending Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones to the government of Iraq. The arms shipments come amidst growing turmoil in Iraq.
In an odd, but related, development, the U.S. State Department issued a statement Dec. 26 praising U.S. efforts to destroy conventional weapons in Iraq. The State Department describes the destroyed weapons as “ranging from pistols to 120mm mortars.” While some of the destroyed weapons are landmines, the State Department claimed credit for destroying “more than 135,430 pieces of unexploded ordnance and abandoned or otherwise at-risk munitions.”
Increased arms shipments and the efforts to destroy weapons come in the context of the weakening of Iraq’s central government as areas of the country slip beyond its control.
According to the United Nations, this year has seen a sharp downturn in security that led to the deaths of more than 8,000 Iraqis, the highest level of violence since 2008.
In a statement issued by the U.S. State Department on Sunday, spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the radical group is a common enemy of the U.S. and Iraq and a threat to the Middle East region.
U.S. officials told the New York Times that the aid was significant because Iraq had virtually run out of Hellfire missiles.
The combination of the air-to-ground missiles, tactical drones and intelligence supplied by the U.S. is intended to augment limited Iraqi ability, the report said.