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Australia and Germany to Arm Islamic State Opposition Forces

Australia and Germany to Arm Islamic State Opposition Forces

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has pledged weapons and ammunition to Iraqi forces battling the threat of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group. 

He issued a statement saying:

The United States government has requested that Australia help to transport stores of military equipment, including arms and munitions, as part of a multi-nation effort. 

Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster aircraft will join aircraft from other nations including Canada, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and the United States to conduct this important task.

Australian assets had been utilized previously in the ongoing Middle East conflict, primarily for humanitarian air drops of food and water to Yazidis under siege by Islamic State militants on Mt. Sinjar, Iraq.

Although Germany has rarely involved itself in foreign conflicts in the post-WWII era, Berlin officials announced Sunday that Germany has decided to send advanced rifles and anti-tank missiles to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. The Peshmerga have been battling Islamic State forces in Iraq’s north, much of which is heavily dominated by an ethnic Kurdish population. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said that there would be enough equipment transported to arm a brigade of 4,000 Peshmerga soldiers. “This is in our security interest,” she told reporters.

The German shipment will feature some 8,000 G36 automatic rifles and an additional 8,000 G3 arms, along with ammunition for both weapons. Kurdish forces will also receive two-hundred Panzerfaust rocket-launchers, thirty MILAN anti-tank weapons, and five ATF Dingo armored mobility units for troop transport. “This isn’t an easy decision for us, but it’s the right decision in a situation that is difficult in every way,” said German Foreign Minister Frank Walter-Steinmeier.

royal marine with milan

UK Commando with MILAN anti-tank system (Credit: Lance CPL R. L. Kugler JR.)

On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that it was absolutely necessary to provide arms to forces fighting IS, largely due to the threat they pose to Germany and Europe as a whole. “We faced a choice: not to take any risks, not to deliver [arms] and to accept the spread of terror; or to support those who are desperately but courageously fighting the barbarous terror of ISIS with limited resources,” said Merkel.

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