BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union on Friday sought to forge a unified response to the rapid advance of Islamic militants in Iraq and the resulting refugee crisis, with several EU nations pledging more humanitarian aid and raising the possibility of directly arming Kurdish fighters battling Sunni insurgents.<br />
The emergency meeting of the bloc's 28 foreign ministers in Brussels marked a shift toward greater involvement in Iraq, following weeks during which Europeans mainly considered the situation an American problem because of the 2003 U.S.-led Iraq invasion.<br />
EU ministers pledged to step up their efforts to help those displaced by the advances of militants from the Islamic State group, with several nations announcing they will fly dozens of tons of aid to northern Iraq over the coming days.<br />
"First of all we need to make sure that we alleviate humanitarian suffering," Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans told reporters. "Secondly, I believe we need to make sure that IS is not in a position to overrun the Kurds or to take a stronger hold on Iraq."<br />
France has pledged to ship weapons to the Kurds, Britain is delivering ammunition and military supplies obtained from eastern European nations and is considering sending more weaponry. Germany, the Netherlands and others said they would also consider requests to arm the Kurds.
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
Evoking history and appealing for solidarity, President Barack Obama on Monday cast his decision to send 250 more troops to Syria as a bid to keep up "momentum" in the campaign to dislodge Islamic State extremists. He pressed European allies to match the U.S. with new contributions of their own.
Atlanta Hawks player Thabo Sefolosha filed a federal lawsuit against New York City on Wednesday, alleging he was unjustly arrested outside of a trendy nightclub last year during a fracas that left him with a broken leg and ended his NBA season.