Posted: Friday, August 15th 2014 at 10:45am
Seeing Iraq horror, Europe pledges aid and arms
By The Associated Press
BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union on Friday sought to forge a unified response to the rapid advance of Islamic militants in Iraq and the resulting refugee crisis, with several EU nations pledging more humanitarian aid and raising the possibility of directly arming Kurdish fighters battling Sunni insurgents.
The emergency meeting of the bloc's 28 foreign ministers in Brussels marked a shift toward greater involvement in Iraq, following weeks during which Europeans mainly considered the situation an American problem because of the 2003 U.S.-led Iraq invasion.
EU ministers pledged to step up their efforts to help those displaced by the advances of militants from the Islamic State group, with several nations announcing they will fly dozens of tons of aid to northern Iraq over the coming days.
"First of all we need to make sure that we alleviate humanitarian suffering," Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans told reporters. "Secondly, I believe we need to make sure that IS is not in a position to overrun the Kurds or to take a stronger hold on Iraq."
France has pledged to ship weapons to the Kurds, Britain is delivering ammunition and military supplies obtained from eastern European nations and is considering sending more weaponry. Germany, the Netherlands and others said they would also consider requests to arm the Kurds.
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