The first delivery of Russian Sukhoi fighter jets arrived in Iraq on Saturday, the country’s Defense Ministry said. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is hoping the jets will make a key difference in the fight against ISIS.
The Iraqi Ministry of Defense on Sunday confirmed receiving five Su-25 fighter jets in accordance with the deal with Moscow. The jets were delivered by a Russian An-124 transport plane in a dismantled state, and are expected to be set up and become operational within 3-4 days.
“The Sukhoi Su-25 is an air-ground support and anti-terrorism mission aircraft. In these difficult times, we are in great need of such aircraft. With God’s help, we will be able to deploy them to support our ground forces on a mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant militants within the next 3-4 days,” Iraqi Army Lieutenant General Anwar Hamad Amen Ahmed told RT’s Ruptly news agency at an airport receiving the jets.
According to Ahmed, Iraq will wage a “massive attack” on insurgents with the help of the jets.
Iraq: Russian Su-25 fighter jets arrive in Iraq
“We have experienced pilots and other professionals. Our Russian friends have also sent their own experts to assist us in preparing the aircraft. All the logistics have been planned for as well,” the lieutenant general said.
Earlier, Iraqi MP Abbas al-Bayati was quoted as saying by local media that ten Russian jets have been delivered, with Iraqi media identifying them as Su-24s. However, the conflicting information has not been confirmed by other sources.
The fighter jets will be stationed at an airbase located in the southern part of the country, PressTV reported, citing military sources.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki revealed that Iraq purchased jets from Russia and Belarus in order to help its fight against Sunni militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL).
At the same time, Maliki criticized the US for taking too long to deliver on its own contract after Iraq purchased F-16 jets from America.
On Friday, Iraqi Air Force Commander Hameed al-Maliki confirmed the shipment of MI-35 and MI-28 Russian helicopter fighters to “keep the momentum” in the attacks against ISIS, Ruptly reported.
The commander said that he signed three contracts with the Russians and stressed the importance of the choppers as “excellent anti-terrorism weapons.”
The radical Sunni ISIS militants have taken large parts of the country’s north from the Shia government.
Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers have been killed by insurgents since the Sunni militants began their offensive on June 9, according to Iraqi forces.
The United Nations says more than 1,000 people – mainly civilians – have been killed during the surge thus far.
ISIS crucify eight anti-Assad fighters in Syria – watchdog
An image grab taken from a propaganda video released on March 17, 2014 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s al-Furqan Media allegedly shows ISIS fighters driving on a street in the northern Syrian City of Homs. (AFP Photo)
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) fighters have publically executed and crucified eight rebels who were fighting both Assad and jihadists, according to a monitoring group using information from local sources.
The eight men were brutally killed in the town square of Deir Hafar in the east of Aleppo province on June 28 because they were from rebel groups that had fought the jihadists as well as President Bashar Assad’s forces, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, AFP reports.
ISIS then “crucified them in the main square of the village, where their bodies will remain for three days,” the pro-opposition NGO added.
A ninth man was crucified alive in Aleppo province where he was nailed up for eight hours in Al-Bab near the Turkish border as a punishment, although he has reportedly survived the ordeal.
ISIS first emerged with any strength in Syria in late spring last year. They were initially welcomed by some of the Syrian rebels who thought their combat experience might be handy in their three-year battle to topple Assad.
But ISIS’s numerous human rights abuses quickly turned the Syrian opposition including other Islamists against them.
In January 2014, the Syrian rebels launched a major anti-ISIS offensive and managed to push them out of large areas of Aleppo province and all of Idlib. But they are still entrenched in Raqa, their northern Syrian headquarters, and in Deir Ezzor in the east of the country near the border with Iraq.
The Observatory says that clashes between rival Islamist groups in Syria have claimed the lives of about 7,000 people since January.
ISIS’s successful June offensive in Iraq and their capture of heavy weapons, some of them US made, has given them a new run of confidence over the border in Syria.
However, a recent counter attack by well-equipped Iraqi army forces supported by helicopter gunships has pushed them back and halted their advance.
There is also an effort on the political front in Baghdad to create a government that will reflect the interests of Iraq’s Sunni Muslims, in an attempt to draw support away from Sunni jihadists.