Iraq crisis
A tribal fighter aims his weapon during an intensive security deployment to fight against militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), in the town of HadithaReuters

Britain is to give heavy machine guns and ammunition to Iraq to assist the government's fight against Isis (now known as the Islamic State), Britain's Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon confirmed that the equipment was worth approximately £1.6m and an extra £475,000 in transport costs would be donated.

He said that the UK was looking to promote "an inclusive, sovereign and democratic Iraq that can push back on ISIL (another term for Islamic State) advances and restore stability and security across the country; and working with the international community to tackle the broader threat that ISIL poses to the region and other countries around the world, including the UK".

"The Kurdish forces remain significantly less well equipped than ISIL and we are responding to help them defend themselves, protect citizens and push back ISIL advances," he added.

Fallon said that the UK wanted to help Baghdad focus on the Islamic State threat by "alleviating the humanitarian suffering of those Iraqis targeted by Isil [Islamic State] terrorists".

The equipment is set to arrive in the country on Wednesday.

Britain has made the move to arm Iraqi forces following Baghdad's creation of an inclusive government, with posts for the Shia Arab majority, Sunni Arabs and Kurds.

British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond said that the new government was a milestone for the country.

He said it was "now vital that all political blocs work together to overcome those challenges", such as the threat from the Islamic State.

"The British government will work closely with the new government of Iraq as it fights terrorism and to further strengthen the political, security and, economic ties between our nations," he added.

IS launched its offensive on Iraq from its heartland of north-eastern Syria, capturing key Sunni towns and cities such as Mosul and Tikrit. It has now declared a "caliphate" that straddles the Iraqi-Syrian border and represents a greater landmass than that of the United Kingdom.

According to the UN, over 1.6 million people have been displaced by conflict in Iraq this year while 850,000 people fled their homes in August alone.