Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has told the BBC that he hopes jets from Russia and Belarus will “turn the tide against rebels in the coming days.”
Isis – the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – and its Sunni Muslim allies seized large parts of Iraq this month. The US, which backs the Iraqi government, has stressed that the militants can only be defeated by Iraq’s own forces.
“I’ll be frank and say that we were deluded when we signed the contract [with the US],“ Mr Maliki told the BBC. According to him, that the process of buying US jets had been “long-winded” and that the militants’ advance could have been avoided if air cover had been in place.
“We should have sought to buy other jet fighters like British, French and Russian to secure the air cover for our forces; if we had air cover we would have averted what had happened,” he stressed.
He said Iraq was acquiring second-hand jet fighters from Russia and Belarus “that should arrive in Iraq in two or three days”.
There have been no reports about agreements between Minsk and Baghdad on deliveries of fighter jets from Belarus before. At that, it cannot be ruled out that the matter concerns Sukhoi Su-27 aircrafts, charter97.org suggests. In January 2013 the Defence Ministry of Belarus confirmed that they are no longer used by national Air Forces. These fighters has been used for more than 25 years, and are overage, their further use contradicts the principles of flights safety, the news medium states.