Russian, Belarus fighter jets will soon destroy terrorists` dens: Iraqi PM
As Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Sunni fighters continue to create mayhem in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that in the coming days fighter jets from Russia and Belarus will destroy the terrorist dens.
Zee Media Bureau
Baghdad: As Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Sunni fighters continue to create mayhem in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that in the coming days fighter jets from Russia and Belarus will destroy the terrorist dens.
In an exclusive interview to the BBC`s Arabic service, Maliki said, "God willing within one week this force will be effective and will destroy the terrorists` dens."
Iraq bought the used jets after long delays in the delivery of US made F-16 planes.
Maliki has been long demanding the US to launch air strikes against the militants, who have taken over control in large parts of Iraq.
However, President Barack Obama ruled out sending US Marines to Iraq and instead decided to send 300 special operations soldiers to assist the Iraqi Army.
While speaking to BBC, Maliki candidly admitted that that Iraq was deluded when it signed the contract (with the US) to buy jets.
He also opined that his government should have bought fighter aircraft from UK, France and Russia. “If we had air cover we would have averted what had happened," Maliki asserted.
He further confirmed that the newly acquired jets would be arrive in Iraq within 2-3 days.
The war-torn country has received support from Iran, which on Thursday said that it would stand by Iraq in fighting terrorism on its request. "If Iraq asks (for help), we will send military equipment to Iraq within the framework of international laws and contracts,” Xinhua cited Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying.
During the interview, Maliki confirmed that Syrian forces had launched an air offensive against the Islaimst militants at a border crossing near both the countries.
He, however, maintained that Iraq had not requested Syria for any military assistance but welcomed the air strikes.
Iraqi forces launched an airborne assault on rebel-held Tikrit on Thursday with commandos flown into a stadium in helicopters, at least one of which crashed after taking fire from insurgents who have seized northern cities.
Witnesses said battles were raging in the city, hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein, which fell to Sunni Islamist fighters two weeks ago on the third day of a lightning offensive that has given them control of most majority Sunni regions.
Iraq`s million-strong Army, trained and equipped by the United States, largely evaporated in the north after Sunni fighters led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant launched their assault with the capture of the north`s biggest city Mosul on June 10.
But in recent days, government forces have been fighting back, relying on elite commandos flown in by helicopter to defend the country`s biggest oil refinery at Baiji.
In the capital, the president`s office confirmed that a new parliament elected two months ago would meet on Tuesday, the deadline demanded by the constitution, to begin the process of forming a government.
Maliki, whose Shi`ite-led State of Law coalition won the most seats in the April election but needs allies to form a cabinet, is under strong pressure from the United States and other countries to swiftly build a more inclusive government to undermine support for the insurgency.