Russian Pilots to Stay out of Military Action Against ISIS Militants in Iraq – Ambassador
MOSCOW, July 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russian pilots may be in Iraq to service fighter jets supplied by Moscow, but they will not take part in possible military action against terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Russia's ambassador to Baghdad said Tuesday.
'There is absolutely no talk of our pilots flying and participating in combat operations. It is prohibited. But assembling the [supplied] aircraft is what they'll probably have to do. Depending on what is written in the contract,' Ambassador Ilya Morgunov told RIA Novosti in an interview.
Ten Russian Sukhoi fighter jets (Su-25), urgently purchased by the Iraqi army, were delivered to the country on June 28. Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich announced Monday that Moscow has delivered the Su-25 aircraft to Iraq in accordance with the contract.
Morgunov did not confirm the arrival of Russian experts to assemble the commissioned aircraft, although 'logically, the relevant specialists should have arrived with the military equipment to help assemble it.'
The Iraqi army needs the supplied aircraft to fight the ISIS militants, previously fighting against President Bashar Assad in Syria. The Sunni insurgents launched a large-scale offensive in Iraq in June. Sunni Iraqis, dissatisfied with the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, have joined the militants.
Some media reports suggest 83,000 families have been forced to leave their homes in northern Iraq amid ISIS' extensive military offensive.
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