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United States sends hellfire missiles to Iraq with expedited delivery

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The United States has delivered dozens of Hellfire air-to-ground missiles to Iraq in the past few weeks and there are planned shipments of San Eagle drones set to head there next year. This is all amid surges in violence where at least 34 people died in Christmas day bomb attacks in Baghdad, according to the Associated Press on Dec. 26, 2013.

On Dec. 19, 2013, 75 Hellfire missiles arrived to Iraq's air forces, according to two intelligence officers. More are planned to be shipped in the near future, but this time frame is already much earlier than originally thought.

"The recent delivery of Hellfire missiles and an upcoming delivery of Scan Eagles are standard (foreign military sales) cases that we have with Iraq to strengthen their capabilities to combat this threat," a State Department official said.

The United Nations estimates that more than 8,000 people have been killed in attacks in Iraq during just this past year.

The United States has already said that the first of 18 F-16 fighter jets promised to Iraq, are set to be delivered in the fall of 2014. The entire order of 18 is to be shipped over the course of the next two years.

"We remain committed to supporting the government of Iraq in meeting its defense needs in the face of these challenges," the official added.

Hellfire missiles are often and widely used by U.S. forces against al-Qaida, and are mostly used to target militant hideouts and vehicles.

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