Kurdish Peshmerga troops participate in intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in a village on the outskirts of the province of Nineveh near the border province of Dohuk, August 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Ari Jalal )
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The Obama administration has begun directly providing weapons to Kurdish forces who have started to make gains against Islamic militants in northern Iraq, senior U.S. officials said Monday.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 of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) 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. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking to reporters here, said the airstrikes "have been very effective from all the reports that we've received on the ground". He declined to detail how or when the U.S. might expand its assistance to Iraq, or if military assessment teams currently in Baghdad would be moving to a more active role advising the Iraqi forces.
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