Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has turned to Russia, hoping to solicit its help to turn the tide away from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) jihadists’ rapid advances through Iraq.
While the Obama administration has been debating its next move in Iraq, Russia and Belarus have seemingly filled the vacuum of power and influence, sending fighter jets to Baghdad in the coming days.
Maliki hoped the newfound resupply for his Air Force would help the Iraqi military push back ISIS’s advancements. “God willing, within one week this force will be effective and will destroy the terrorists’ dens,” the Prime Minister told the BBC.
The fighter jets from the two eastern European nations “should arrive in Iraq in two to three days,” said Maliki.
The Iraqi Prime Minister was disappointed that the US failed to send armaments in due time. “I’ll be frank and say that we were deluded when we signed the contract [with the US],” said Maliki on Thursday.
The Prime Minister continued, “We should have sought to buy other jet fighters like British, French, and Russian to secure the air cover for our forces; if we had air cover we would have averted what had happened.”
Maliki denied that he had anything to do with the recent airstrikes carried out by Syrian forces against ISIS jihadis at an Iraq-Syria border crossing. However, he “welcomed” them.
Maliki hoped that the Alawite Syrian regime under Bashar al-Assad will also succeed in defeating the ISIS Sunni fighters within his country. “They carry out their strikes, and we carry out ours, and the final winners are our two countries,” he said. ISIS militants claimed that 70 were killed in one strike and 20 in another. They said Syrian fighter jets hit the Iraqi cities of Qaim and Rutba.