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MOSCOW, June 30. /ITAR-TASS/. Iraq has requested Russia to urgently supply Su-25 (Frogfoot) ground attack aircraft over Washington’s delay in delivering F-16 fighters. A source from the military and diplomatic circles reported this to ARMS-TASS on Monday.
The Iraqi Defense Ministry has had to request Russian aircraft deliveries over the need to urgently raise the Iraqi army’s combat readiness in its fight against terrorists, the source said.
The source declined to specify the number of Su-25 planes to be supplied to Iraq to make up for the missing 18 F-16 fighters, which the Pentagon had earlier pledged to deliver.
Previous reports said with reference to the Iraqi Defense Ministry that the first five Su-25 planes had been delivered to Baghdad in disassembled parts aboard a Russian An-124-100 Ruslan transport plane. A video posted on the Iraqi Defense Ministry’s website suggests that the planes had previously been in operation and were delivered without any restorative repairs.
The planes are expected to become operational with the Iraqi attack aviation within several days.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki earlier said in an interview with the BBC that the Iraqi side “was deluded when it signed the contract” with the US on the delivery of F-16 fighters.
“We should have sought to buy other jet fighters like British, French and Russian to secure the air cover for our forces,” he said. “If we had air cover, we would have averted what had happened.”
The situation in Iraq has deteriorated since early June after the Sunni militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant terrorist group (ISIS) closely related to Al-Qaeda and local radical units launched an offensive in the north of the country and captured a number of settlements there
The Iraqi premier also said Iraq had taken a decision to buy used fighter jets from Russia and Belarus, which should be delivered to Iraq within two days.