The United States has delivered 100 Hellfire missiles, along with assault rifles and ammunition, to Iraq as part of its anti-terrorism assistance to the country, the US embassy to Iraq has said.
In a statement issued on Sunday, it said the delivery was made earlier this month in order to help bolster Iraqi forces fighting a breakaway al-Qaeda group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“It is essential that Iraqi Security Forces are equipped with modern and effective weaponry given the serious threat … the ISIL now poses to Iraq and the region,” said the statement, which also promised to send more weapons to Iraq in the coming weeks.
It added that since the middle of January, Iraqi security forces had received more than eleven million rounds of ammunition, as well as thousands of machine guns, sniper rifles, assault rifles and grenades.
Iraqi warplanes frequently fire anti-armour Hellfire missiles at positions of fighters in the embattled western Anbar province, the AP news agency said.
Since late December, Iraq’s western cities have seen fierce clashes pitting government security forces and their tribal Sunni militia allies against al-Qaeda-linked fighters and other armed groups.
The fighters hold the city of Fallujah and parts of Anbar’s provincial capital, Ramadi.
Meanwhile, two police officials said a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into a joint security patrol near Ramadi on Sunday afternoon, killing three policemen and two soldiers.
Both officers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
Four people were also reported killed after a car bomb exploded in south eastern Baghdad. Vehicles parked in the area and several shops were also damaged.