As Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s 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 arriving 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 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.