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U.S. To Provide Arms Soon To Iraqi Kurds To Fight IS

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited Irbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, December 17 as part of a weeklong, unannounced trip to Iraq.

He met with the Kurdish region's President Masud Barzani and commanders within the U.S.-led coalition that is fighting Islamic State (IS) militants.

He later met with U.S. special operations forces and had dinner with U.S. troops.

Carter said Barzani assured him that Kurdish forces will participate in the coalition's effort to encircle IS and retake Mosul, which IS has held since last year.

And he said the next major U.S. shipment of arms to the Kurds will include enough equipment to fully arm two Kurdish brigades, which will then be able to join the battle to retake Mosul.

He said the equipment could arrive within weeks, and will include weapons, ammunition, armored vehicles, communications and medical equipment, generators, and body armor.

Initially the United States was going to wait to provide the equipment until the Kurds had trained two new brigades. But officials said Carter was convinced in his meetings to provide it sooner.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP