BEIRUT

Middle East

Britain actively considering arming Kurds: Cameron

A Kurdish peshmerga fighter fires an RPG at an advancing ISIS vehicle during front-line clashes at Buyuk Yeniga village, after the village was retaken on September 4, 2014. (REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah)

NEWPORT, United Kingdom: Britain is considering providing arms directly to Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in northern Iraq, Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday after jihadists threatened to kill a British hostage.

"Britain has been helping get arms to the Kurds and we are prepared to do more. We are considering actively whether to give them arms ourselves and whether we can do more directly to train Kurdish militia," the prime minister told ITV television.

The Royal Air Force has been transporting ammunition supplied by allies and British non-lethal equipment to the regional government in Irbil, including 10 tons of British body armor overnight Wednesday.

But London is moving closer to directly arming the Kurds and providing them with training following the increased threat posed by ISIS militants who have seized territory across Iraq and Syria.

The group released a video this week showing the beheading of a second U.S. journalist and threatening the life of a British captive, prompting London to warn it would look at "every option" to protect the hostage.

Asked if Britain would join the U.S. in airstrikes on ISIS forces, Cameron said on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Newport: "I'm certainly not ruling anything out and I will always act in the British national interest."

Any decision to arm the Kurds would have to be done with the agreement of the Iraqi government in Baghdad, officials say.

The prime minister last month appointed Lt. Gen. Simon Mayall, a government military advisor, as special envoy to Iraq and sent him to the region to discuss how to deal with the threat of ISIS.

On Sunday, Germany announced it would be sending arms to Iraqi Kurds, breaking with a post-war policy of refusing to send weapons into conflict zones.

 

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Summary

Britain is considering providing arms directly to Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in northern Iraq, Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday after jihadists threatened to kill a British hostage.

The Royal Air Force has been transporting ammunition supplied by allies and British non-lethal equipment to the regional government in Irbil, including 10 tons of British body armor overnight Wednesday.

On Sunday, Germany announced it would be sending arms to Iraqi Kurds, breaking with a post-war policy of refusing to send weapons into conflict zones.


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