U.S. officials say the Obama administration has begun directly providing weapons to Kurdish forces, according to AP.
“Previously, the U.S. had insisted on only selling arms to the Iraqi government in Baghdad, but the Kurdish peshmerga fighters had been losing ground to Islamic State militants in recent weeks. The officials wouldn't say which U.S. agency is providing the arms or what weapons are being sent, but one official said it isn't the Pentagon. The CIA has historically done similar quiet arming operations.”
“The administration is also very close to approving plans for the Pentagon to arm the Kurds, a senior official said. In recent days, the U.S. military has been helping facilitate weapons deliveries from the Iraqis to the Kurds, providing logistic assistance and transportation to the north.”
The United States has continued its airstrikes against Islamic Caliphate (IS) militants near Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan autonomous region. American planes are also dropping supplies to civilians, including members of ethnic and religious minorities, who have fled their homes from the advancing militants.
U.S. warplanes and drones have also attacked militants firing on minority Yazidis around Sinjar, which is in the far west of the country near the Syrian border.
British officials estimate that 50,000 to 150,000 people could be trapped on Sinjar Mountain, where they fled to escape the Islamic extremists, only to become stranded there with few supplies. Supplies are trickling in however.
Iraq president asks Abadi— not Maliki – to form new government.
Reuters quotes a spokesman for the Iraqi president as saying he has asked Haider al-Abadi, a leading member of Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition, to form a new government.
The move is likely to be resisted by Maliki, who has rejected calls to drop his bid for a third term as prime minister.
Earlier, in a surprise speech delivered in the early hours of the morning, Maliki accused new President Fuad Masum of blocking his reappointment as prime minister.
Abadi named new head of government.
Iraqi state television showed footage of the president shaking hands with Abadi and telling him: "I hope you will be successful in forming a broader-based government."
Facts About Abadi
Abadi is a low-key figure who spent time in Britain. According to his Facebook biography, his favourite quotation is "the key to leadership is tolerance".
Educated at the University of Manchester, Abadi served as the head of parliament's finance committee, a political advisor to the prime minister and minister of communications.
The Godfather and The Matrix are among his favourite movies, according to a Facebook entry.
Top U.S. Enjoy Welcomes Abadi Nomination
Brett McGurk, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, has congratulated Abadi on being tasked to form a new government as prime minister.
Member of Maliki bloc rejects new Iraqi prime minister
Hussein al-Maliki, Maliki's son-in-law and a member of his political bloc, told Reuters that "we will not stay silent" over the president's decision to task Abadi with forming a new government.
"The nomination is illegal and a breach of the constitution. We will go to the federal court to object to the nomination."