The U.S. has delivered four F-16 aircraft to the Iraqi Air Force to aid Iraq in the fight against Islamic State. Sean Carberry reports.
Iraq receives first F-16 fighters.
Iraq has long wanted U.S. F-16s to help it battle Islamic State militants.
But, the ongoing fighting with Islamic State delayed the delivery of the planes.
At this ceremony at Balad Air Base, Iraq finally took delivery of four of the 36 jets it ordered.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the F-16s would help Iraq defeat Islamic State.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) IRAQI PRIME MINISTER, HAIDER AL-ABADI, SAYING:
“It is evidence of trust by the world in the ability of the Iraqi forces that achieve victories on the ground. Without this trust, there would be no delivery of these advanced fighter jets to Iraq, and there is a real coalition between the forces that defend justice and stand against Islamic State,”
The United States ambassador to Iraq, Stuart Jones, said it will take multiple years to complete the delivery of the remaining 32 jets.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ, STUART E. JONES, SAYING:
“As the capability here in Iraq rises to meet these new fighter aircraft, new aircraft will be delivered. So we’re still in the process of training pilots, training technicians.”
The delivery came as Iraqi authorities announced the start of a military operation to drive Islamic State from the province of Anbar, west of Baghdad.