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Iraq awaits arrival of fighter planes bought from Russia, Belarus

He acknowledged a lack of air cover has made it difficult to stop rebels from overtaking the country.
By Ed Adamczyk   |   June 26, 2014 at 5:33 PM   |   Comments

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BAGHDAD, June 26 (UPI) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said second-hand fighter jets, recently purchased from Russia and Belarus, should help stop Islamic militants from overtaking the country.

Speaking Thursday in an interview, Maliki said, "God willing, within one week this force will be effective and will destroy the terrorists' dens."

He added the advance of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has occupied much of Iraq, could have been avoided with appropriate air cover, calling negotiations to purchase planes from the United States "long-winded."

"I'll be frank and say that we were deluded when we signed the contract to buy U.S. planes). 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 added.

Maliki confirmed Syrian aircraft struck Islamist militants at the Iraq-Syria border, adding it was welcomed but not requested, saying, "They carry out their strikes and we carry out ours, and the final winners are our two countries."

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