The Pentagon said Thursday that an expedited shipment of 2,000 lightweight shoulder-fired weapons should arrive in Iraq next week.
The weapons, according to The Associated Press (AP), are intended to help the Iraqi army stop the Islamic State (ISIS) group's increasingly effective use of car bombs.
The shipment is among a variety of weaponry and equipment the United States agreed to send to Iraq on an expedited basis after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Washington in April to plead for more help in fighting the extremists.
Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the shipment of shoulder-fired AT-4 weapons was not in response to the fall of Ramadi over the weekend, although the jihadists’ effective use of enormous car bombs there put a spotlight on Iraqi army deficiencies and prompted the White House to consider ways of strengthening its support for Iraq.
A senior State Department official on Wednesday said the ISIS offensive in Ramadi over the weekend included about 30 suicide vehicle bombs, including 10 with a great deal of explosive power.
The AT-4 is designed to penetrate armor, making the weapon useful in stopping what the military calls “vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices”, or car bombs, before they approach their intended target, noted AP.
In an update to the overall cost of U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Syria, Warren said that as of April 9 the U.S. had spent $2.1 billion since it began bombing in Iraq in August. The Syria bombing campaign began the following month.
Another report on Wednesday indicated that President Barack Obama was also considering arming Iraqi Sunni tribes in order to help them fight against ISIS, though no decision on that has been made.