France will send weapons to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq to help them fight the Islamic extremists who have taken control of swaths of territory in the north and west of the country, the government in Paris announced Wednesday.
President Francois Hollande's office said the arms would be delivered with the help and approval of the Iraqi government.
Massoud Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north, had requested that the international community supply weapons to help his troops fight the Islamic State group, formerly known by the acronym ISIS.
On Tuesday, the European Union failed to agree on a deal to supply weapons. However, it gave individual countries the green light to make their own arrangements with Iraq.
A statement from the presidential palace in Paris said France would send arms "in the next few hours" to Iraq "to support the operational capacity of the forces engaged in the battle against the Islamic State."
"The catastrophic situation in which the population in the region of Iraqi Kurdistan finds itself necessitates a new and greater mobilization of the international community. France intends to play an active role by supplying, along with its partners and with the agreement of the new Iraqi authorities, all the help needed," the statement said.
Hollande has asked French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to "personally respond" to the situation and reiterated France's support for Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haidar Abadi.
"It is vital that a coalition government representing all Iraq's communities is quickly formed in order to efficiently combat the Islamic State," Hollande's office said. "We must continue to be mobilized in favor of Kurdistan and to the benefit of Iraq as a whole. The coordination of international aid is essential."
Willsher is a special correspondent.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times