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Seeing horror in Iraq and possibility of spillover at home, Europe reconsiders its reluctance

France's decision to arm Kurdish fighters in the battle against Islamic militants has marked a turning point in Europe's wavering stance on Iraq, with an EU emergency meeting on Friday seeking to forge a unified response to the Sunni insurgents' advance.

The 2003 U.S.-led Iraq invasion created a bitter rift across the European Union and the bloc has since been loath to get involved in the country, but the militants in Iraq and Syria who threaten to reshape the Middle East have raised the stakes by drawing more than 1,500 European radicals to their ranks.

The plight of refugees and the threat of Islamic State militants overrunning more of Iraq prompted the 28-nation bloc to cut short a holiday weekend and convene an emergency meeting of its foreign ministers.