Isis crisis: UK Government donating heavy machine guns and ammunition to Kurdish peshmerga fighting Islamic State

The announcement comes as US president Barack Obama prepares to outline his strategy for dealing with Isis

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The Independent Online

Britain is donating heavy machine guns and ammunition to Kurdish troops resisting the advance of Islamic State fighters across northern Iraq, the Government announced today.

It will be the first that British-made lethal equipment has been sent to Kurdistan, with Britain limiting itself to supplying such items as helmets and body armour and providing humanitarian aid.

David Cameron announced last week that the policy was to change in an attempt to bolster the Kurdish forces.

That decision came after the Prime Minister appointed a senior military officer to liaise with the Kurds to discover what help they need.

The shipment of guns and ammunition, which is worth £1.6m, will arrive on Wednesday. It will cost a further £475,000 to transport the military hardware to the warzone.

Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, said: "The Kurdish forces remain significantly less well equipped than Isil (IS) and we are responding to help them defend themselves, protect citizens and push back Isil advances."

The announcement comes as US president Barack Obama prepares to outline his strategy for dealing with IS tomorrow (weds).

Mr Cameron has said Britain would join US-led airstrikes against IS if it was in the national interest. But he has stressed that military intervention should only take place alongside political and economic pressure – and if there is support for the action across the region.

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