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Germany sends 16,000 rifles to Iraq to stem Islamic State

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is sending 16,000 assault rifles, plus anti-tank weapons and armored vehicles, to Iraqi Kurds fighting Islamic State militants, lifting a German taboo on shipments into war zones.

The hardware, which also includes pistols, trucks and grenades, will equip 4,000 soldiers of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said at a news conference in Berlin late yesterday after leaders of Merkel’s coalition met to approve the shipments. The equipment will be delivered in three batches in September, she said.

“If we don’t succeed in pushing Islamic State back, the Middle East’s fragile order would be shaken to the core and set the entire region ablaze,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at the news conference. “It’s not an easy decision for us, but it’s the right decision in a situation that’s exceptional in every way.”

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