Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. delivered 75 Hellfire missiles to Iraq last week and will deliver 10 ScanEagle reconnaissance drones in March to help Iraqi security forces battle a resurging al Qaeda attacks.
The urgency of the latest weapons import is bolstered by the bombings Wednesday of a market near a church in Baghdad and other sectarian violence that killed at least 44 civilians across Iraq. The death toll from violence this year already topped 6,700 based on figures by AFP and as much as 8,000 according to a United Nations tally. Majority of the fatalities are police and soldiers.
The attacks are blamed on the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which fought against Iraqi soldiers who raided its training camp near Rutbah last week killing an army commander in the process. The incident prompted the U.S. State Department to warn that the Qaeda affiliate is trying to gain control of Iraq.
The CIA will assist Iraqi security forces in the use of the Hellfire air-to-ground missiles in effectively attacking militant camps. The agency has a map of the locations and origins of the Qaeda network in Iraq and will share this information with the Iraqis to target militant camps.
The last military equipment delivered to Iraq were three reconnaissance helicopters. The U.S. is also planning to deliver F-16 fighters and 48 Raven reconnaissance drones to Iraq’s military before the end of 2014.