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AFP

Albania sending weapons
to Kurdish forces in Iraq

Peshmerga fighters. (AFP PHOTO)

TIRANA - Albania has started sending weapons and ammunition to Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq, a defense ministry source said on Thursday.

 

The first shipment was sent on Sunday, said a ministry source who requested anonymity.

 

Despite being one of the poorest nations in Europe, Muslim-majority Albania earlier this month said it would send large quantities of weapons to help Kurdish fighters beat back advancing jihadists, including up to 22 million AK47 rifle rounds and 32,000 artillery shells.

 

Militants led by the Islamic State (IS) launched a major offensive in June that overran large areas of Iraq, and began a renewed push earlier this month that saw Kurdish forces pushed back towards their regional capital of Arbil.

 

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Tuesday that in addition to the United States and Albania, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Italy, France and the United Kingdom have pledged to send military support to Kurdish forces.

 

"Operations have already begun and will accelerate in the coming days with more nations also expected to contribute," Hagel said.

Peshmerga fighters. (AFP PHOTO)

Operations have already begun and will accelerate in the coming days with more nations also expected to contribute