Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position on the front line in Makhmur, about 280 kilometers north of the capital Baghdad, during clashes with Islamic State (IS) militants on August 9, 2014. (AFP/Safin Hamed)
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For years, Kurdish officials have beseeched the Obama administration to let them buy U.S. weapons.The Islamic State group, which some American officials have dubbed "a terrorist army," overpowered lightly armed Kurdish units in a blitzkrieg that has threatened the Kurdish region and the American personnel stationed there.President Barack Obama said Saturday that the U.S. had increased military aid to the Kurds, though he did not elaborate. Dozens of them are operating out of Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, which is now under threat from the Islamic State.In a bitter irony, the extremists used American armored vehicles and weapons they had seized from the hapless Iraqi military to defeat Kurdish fighters who were blocked from acquiring just such equipment, U.S. and Kurdish officials said.The U.S. has not wanted to stoke the Kurds' desire for, and Baghdad's fear of, an independent Kurdish state.Under the Pentagon's foreign military sales program, some $200 million worth of American weapons that was supposed to be earmarked for the Kurds by the Maliki government was never delivered to them, Barbero said.Zebari and Barbero said Kurdish forces have been outgunned by ISIL troops driving in armored American Humvees and firing American machine guns seized from the Iraqi army.
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