U.S. moves forward with attack helicopter sale to Iraq

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 27, 2014 3:29 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration notified Congress on Monday of plans to sell Apache attack helicopters to Iraq after providing assurance to lawmakers about how the helicopters would be used.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, in a post on its website, said it had informed Congress of the possible sale of 24 Apaches to the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is seeking to fend off a growing militant threat.

The sale had been held up by concerns in the leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about, in part, whether the United States could secure adequate assurances that the helicopters wouldn't be used in unintended ways.

Maliki, a Shi'ite, is facing intense criticism from minority Sunnis who accuse him of trying to sideline them.

A Senate aide said that the committee had signed off on the lease and sale of helicopters for Iraq after the State Department "engaged with us extensively this month" to address congressional concerns.

The total number of helicopters that would be leased or sold to Iraq was not immediately clear.

(Reporting By Missy Ryan)