Four U.S. F-16 warplanes landed in Iraq on Monday, the first batch of a much-delayed delivery aimed at boosting the ailing Iraqi military’s capacity, the defense ministry said.
“Arrival of four F-16s at Balad air base,” read a flash on the ministry’s website, in an announcement also confirmed to AFP by the prime minister’s office.
Brett McGurk, U.S. President Barack Obama’s deputy envoy for the international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, also confirmed the jets had arrived.
“After years of preparation & training in the U.S., Iraqi pilots today landed the 1st squadron of Iraqi F16s in #Iraq,” he said on social media.
The delivery had most recently been delayed over security concerns at Balad, which lies around 70 kilometers north of Baghdad.
ISIS fighters were still battling government forces not far from Balad earlier this year, which was deemed to make it unsafe for the U.S. contractors hired to maintain the jets.
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