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Published: Thursday August 28, 2014 MYT 1:10:19 AM
Updated: Thursday August 28, 2014 MYT 1:10:21 AM

Germany to decide on military aid for Iraq on Sunday - minister

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The German government will decide on Sunday what specific military aid it will send to Kurdish forces in Iraq to help them fight Islamic State militants in the north of the country, its foreign minister said on Wednesday.

"We should be helping with certain supplies, according to our capabilities, so they can fight and prevent ISIS from taking over the whole region and creating a caliphate," Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a news conference during a visit to Prague. "The German government has not reached a decision yet today but I believe that a decision should be made on Sunday on concretely what should be supplied," said the German minister.

In Prague, meanwhile, the Czech government approved supplying ammunition and hand grenades to Kurdish forces. Czech news agency CTK said the ammunition, worth about $2 million, would be transported to Iraq by U.S. forces.

Germany's decision last week to help the Kurds signalled a break with a post-war principle of not sending arms to conflict zones. Chancellor Angela Merkel said what she described as "genocide" in northern Iraq justified exceptional measures.

Opinion polls suggest the German public has no appetite for getting involved in Iraq's conflict and Merkel has made clear she would not send combat troops there. In a poll by Forsa last week, 63 percent said they were against arming the Kurds.

The German opposition has warned that any weapons sent could end up in the wrong hands and demanded a debate in parliament, which is scheduled for Monday.

No vote is required but a source in the coalition government, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there might be a non-binding ballot in the Bundestag (lower house).

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Robert Muller in Prague and Thorsten Severin in Berlin; Writing by Stephen Brown/Mark Heinrich)

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