Russian Fighter Jets Arrive in Iraq for Fight Against Rebels

First five Sukhoi Su-25 fighters expected to go into action within days, according to Iraqi defense ministry.

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Iraq has taken delivery of a batch of Russian fighter jets for its defense against Sunni militants, the Iraqi defense ministry announced on Sunday morning, accord to a report in the BBC.

The first five Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft would enter service in "three to four days," according to the report.

The Sunni rebels launched their offensive against the Shi'ite-dominated government three weeks ago and currently control large swathes of the north and west of the country.

The deal with Russia "was aimed at increasing the firepower of the air force and the rest of the armed forces in order to fight terrorism," the ministry said in a statement.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the BBC last week that his government had signed a deal with Russia and Belarus to supply second-hand jet fighters, reportedly at a cost of some $500 million (two billion shekels).

At the same time, Maliki criticized the United States for taking too long to deliver F-16 jets ordered by Iraq.

On Friday, Iraqi Air Force Commander Hameed al-Maliki confirmed that he had signed contracts for the purchase of Russian MI-35 and MI-28 attack helicopter to "keep up the momentum" in the attacks against the Sunni insurgents, Ruptly news agency reported.

A Russian expert, quoted by news agency, said that six Sukhoi SU-30 jets had been sent to Iraq, but this has not yet been confirmed.

Iraq's air force has struggled to impose itself against the militants, led by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS.) Reports say the air force has run out of certain air-to-ground missiles.

The U.S. has confirmed it is flying armed drones in Iraq to protect some 300 U.S. military personnel on the ground, but they are not believed to be directly involved in the hostilities.

A Russian Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jet.Credit: Wikimedia

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