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U.S. directly arming Kurds in Iraq

By Barbara Starr, Elise Labott and Jim Acosta, CNN
updated 2:20 PM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Kurdish Peshmerga is fighting ISIS militants in northern Iraq
  • Arms shipments have come from the CIA so far, officials said
  • The Obama administration is looking to possibly expand the transfer of weapons

(CNN) -- The Obama administration has shipped weapons directly to Kurdish forces battling ISIS militants in northern Iraq and is considering ways to expand the transfer of arms, U.S. officials told CNN.

Shipments have so far come from the CIA, two U.S. officials said.

But discussions are underway inside the administration about whether the Defense Department might get involved.

The Pentagon and the State departments do not sell or transfer weapons to non-state entities, but the administration is looking at whether there is a way around that restriction, one official said.

"We're working with the government of Iraq to increasingly and very quickly get urgently needed arms to the Kurds," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told CNN's New Day on Monday.

In a separate statement, Harf said the Iraqi government "has made deliveries from its own stock, and we have done the same."

She said such efforts are being done in "full coordination" with the government in Baghdad.

Since last Thursday, the Iraqi government has transferred three shipments of arms and ammunition to the Kurds, one of the officials said.

In addition, there have been other shipments from the CIA, the official said.

The CIA shipments are useful because the Kurdish fighters -- known as the Peshmerga -- use different arms and ammunition than the U.S. military stocks, so the intelligence agency is better equipped to get that type of material to the Kurds quickly.

One official noted more arms could come from other countries in consultation with the United States.

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