France has said it will start supplying arms to the Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group, calling the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan "catastrophic".

The shipment of French arms, which the government refused to describe on Wednesday, follows the United States' increased role in fighting Islamic State fighters.

France said its arms shipment was coordinated with the Iraqi government.

Meanwhile, Germany expressed its readiness to bend its restrictive policies on weapons exports and arm Kurdish fighters battling the IS.

"We cannot just leave Kurdistan on its own and watch as people are slaughtered there," Frank-Walter Steinmeir, the German foreign minister, said on Wednesday.

"If necessary, if the current threat level persists, I cannot rule out that we will have to deliver weapons." 

The move came a day after the European Union failed to agree on a joint position on supplying weapons to Iraqi Kurds, but has said individual members could send arms in coordination with Baghdad.

EU meeting

The EU foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the conflicts in Iraq and Ukraine, the EU said on Wednesday.

Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, "has decided to convene an extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council this Friday, 15 August, in Brussels on the EU's response to major ongoing crises, focusing on Iraq and Ukraine," a spokesman for Ashton said.

Meanwhile, France pledged on Wednesday to deliver a new 20-tonne shipment of humanitarian aid including medicine, tents and water treatment equipment to Erbil later in the day.

French authorities have pushed other European Union members to do more to aid minorities being targeted by the Islamic State group.

A high-level EU diplomatic meeting late on Tuesday ended with a statement that it would consider the Kurdish request for urgent military support "in close coordination with Iraqi authorities."

Source: Agencies