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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. is directly arming Kurdish fighters in their battle against Islamist militants in northern Iraq, security officials told NBC News on Monday. In the past, the U.S. had channeled all weapons - including ammunition - through the Iraqi government in Baghdad. Revelations that the CIA is sending arms directly to Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga, come as the U.S. continues to carry out airstrikes in northern Iraq against Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) installations.
The peshmerga have been battling the heavily-armed ISIS - whose arsenal includes U.S.-made weapons, tanks and artillery seized from the Iraqi military as the insurgents blazed a path across northern Iraq. U.S. officials told NBC News that the CIA will be sending a variety of arms, including small arms and shoulder-fired weapons, to the peshmerga. In addition, the airstrikes authorized by President Barack Obama will continue, officials said, to help level the playing field between the outgunned Kurdish forces and ISIS.
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