LONDON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Britain is providing heavy machine guns and ammunition to Kurdish regional forces in northern Iraq battling Islamic State terrorists.
The provision of the weapons and nearly a half-million rounds of ammunition was announced by Britain's Ministry of Defense, which said the aid was being given at the request of Iraq's national government.
"ISIL militants are guilty of shocking brutality," said Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. "So I am pleased that we will supply weapons to the Kurdish forces who are at the front line of combating their violent extremism.
"We have already provided body armor and other protective equipment as well as ammunition from our partners; these weapons will help the Kurdish forces in taking the fight to these barbaric terrorists."
Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL, an Islamist group which surged into Iraq out of Syria, recruited disaffected Sunni Muslim groups in Iraq and then declared an Islamist caliphate in Iraq, which it intends to expand for control of the Middle East. Its forces have slaughtered hundreds – if not more -- civilians and captured government troops in Syria and Iraq.
An undetermined number of British nationals and U.S. citizens are fighting for the group, raising fears of terrorism at home if and when they return.
Earlier this month British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a number of pro-active, aggressive measures to counter the threat, including barring returning IS jihadists from the country.
"It's abhorrent that people who declare their allegiance elsewhere are able to return to the United Kingdom and pose a threat to our national security," Cameron told Parliament. "We are clear in principle that what we need is a targeted, discretionary power to allow us to exclude British nationals from the UK.
"We will work up proposals on this basis with our agencies, in line with our international obligations, and discuss the details on a cross-party basis."
U.S. President Barak Obama is scheduled to speak to the country Wednesday night on the threat to the United States.
The U.S. military has conducted airstrikes on Islamic State terrorists in Iraq at the request of the Iraq government.
The Ministry of Defense said it remains "committed to assisting the government of Iraq by alleviating the humanitarian suffering of those Iraqis targeted by ISIL terrorists; promoting an inclusive, sovereign and democratic Iraq that can push back on ISIL advances and restore stability and security across the country."
The airlifting of military equipment from other countries to Northern Iraq as well as humanitarian aid will continue to be conducted by the Royal Air Force, the ministry said.