Italy could arm Iraqi Kurds by Sept. 10
Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said Wednesday Italy could be prepared to delivery weaponry to Kurdish pershmerga fighters in Iraq by September 10, according to Reuters.
Italy is among several European nations — including Germany and France — who've begun negotiating the delivery of light weaponry to Kurdish forces since Islamic extremist group Islamic State swept into large swaths of northern Iraq in June.
Sourced both from Italy's own stockpiles and those of confiscated Soviet-made weapons obtained during the 1990s Balkan wars, the Kurds are meant to receive 200 machine guns, 2,000 rocket propelled grenades and 950,000 rounds of ammunition from Italy _ a bulk roughly equal to 1.9 million euro, or $2.5 million USD.
Pinotti said the transaction waits only for the final authorization, which she believes will arrive by next week.
Italy's decision follows German Chancellor Angela Merkel's annoucement earlier this week that her government will send enough weapons to arm 4,000 Kurds, including anti-tank rockets, assault rifles, hand grenades, mine-clearing equipment, night-vision googles and field kitchen sets, according to Reuters.
While arming Kurdish forces is normally not the first option for Germany, Merkel said an exeption must be made due to the "far-reaching destabilization" threat posed by IS, and the subsequent security threat it could pose to Europe.
IS operations were highlighted again this week when a video proporting the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, was released by the group Tuesday.
In the wake of the second video, U.S. President Barack Obama has vowed to justice will be served' for the slain Sotloff, but has yet to provide a finite timeline or strategy for any U.S. operation to combat the group inside Syria.