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Rudaw

Iraq

No Iraqi F-16 combat missions allowed without Kurdish pilots

By Rudaw 22/7/2015
Iraqi F-16: Photo by AP
Iraqi F-16: Photo by AP

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A Kurdish politician in the Iraqi Parliament in Baghdad has claimed in comments to Rudaw that the Iraqi air force cannot legally use its newly acquired F-16 fighter jets in combat missions without the participation of Kurdish pilots.
 
Previous reporting by Rudaw has indicated only five Kurdish pilots have been trained by the US to operate the 36 F-16s purchased by the Iraqi government. Only four of those F-16s have so far been delivered to Iraq. One of those four jets has been assigned to a Kurdish pilot, Muhammad Anwar of Erbil.  
 
“According to the signed agreements between the Iraqi government and the United States, the F-16 jets will not be used in combat without the participation of the Kurdish pilots. There are conditions in the agreement that the Iraqi government must fulfill,” MP Shakho Abdullah told Rudaw Tuesday.
 
“Four F-16s were delivered to Iraq this month. The agreement with the US obliges the Iraqi government not to operate these jets in combat missions in Iraqi cities, public places such as governorates, districts and towns,” he added. “The US has delivered the F-16 jets with the necessary ordnance. The jets are ready to use but they will not be used against ISIS for the time being.”
 
Concerns have been raised by some Kurdish politicians that the newly acquired jets could be used to attack Kurds in the event of a Baghdad-Kurd conflict. Former President Saddam Hussein used his air force against the Kurds—including against civilian targets and for the deployment of chemical weapons—in the Al-Anfal campaign in the 1980s.

“The Kurds are worried about the policies and approaches of the Iraqi government in Baghdad towards the Kurds,” Adnan Mufti, a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan politburo member, told Rudaw this week regarding the F-16s.
 
Other Kurdish concerns surround the possibility the central government might lose control of the jets to ISIS. When the jihadists overran swaths of the country in summer 2014, the Iraqi army abandoned large numbers of military vehicles and equipment. Even more equipment was lost to ISIS when it seized the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi this May.

“The Iraqi army might abandon its weapons to the terrorist groups as they did with the US weapons they left for ISIS,” the PUK’s Tariq Gardi, a Kurdish MP in the Iraqi Parliament in Baghdad, told Rudaw this week.  

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yad | 22/7/2015
I hope these air jet combat will use to remove ISIS and far them away to kill and shelling innocent people because we are as Kurdish people have a bad background with we were victim nearly 30 years ago such as Halabja when it was hit by chemical weapons during Saddam era
Hersh | 22/7/2015
This is good news if it's true but I doubt it, only today one of those Iraqi F-16's flew over both Sulaymaniy and Erbil, if that's not a threat I don't know what is, that means the shia government broke the agreement with the US less then 24 hours after officially being handed those jets. Someone needs to explain this incident immediately.
gg | 22/7/2015
"The agreement with the US obliges the Iraqi government not to operate these jets in combat missions in Iraqi cities, public places such as governorates, districts and towns..." So according to this article - Insane lobbying by Kurds forces major restrictions on Iraq's use of their new 'toys' against enemy forces threatening both regions whilst coalition forces can do whatever they want in the country. Once again the recurring theme of sabotage from within - like a metastasizing cancer - the Barzanis must be reveling in it by now. "Concerns have been raised by some Kurdish politicians that the newly acquired jets could be used to attack Kurds in the event of a Baghdad-Kurd conflict." -- Barzanis seem almost CERTAIN that a Baghdad-Kurd conflict is coming - is that why they're desperately seeking direct shipment of heavy weapons, I wonder why they keep talking of conflict when Baghdad's rhetoric has been anything BUT conflict? "Former President Saddam Hussein used his air force against the Kurds—including against civilian targets and for the deployment of chemical weapons—in the Al-Anfal campaign in the 1980s." -- which didn't stop Barzani welcoming and working with Saddam and his cronies in the 1990's in a cooperative stanza against the very same people who suffered in the Anfal campaign. Bunch of backstabbing jokers!
WakeUpKurds | 23/7/2015
Message for the Kurds: Please act immediately even if you have to borrow the money. Purchase anti-air craft missiles right away before it is too late. No doubt, these jets have been sent to get to the hands of ISIS. Even if they don't, any government in Baghdad is no better than ISIS itself when it comes to Kurds. One day, without being prepared, they will carpet bomb Hawler. At that time, it will be too late to deal with it.
M Gonzales
M Gonzales | 23/7/2015
It's time to put up or shut up. Demand SAMs and the right to buy arm's or you walk away from Iraq immediately. Wait at your own peril and destruction. Those F-16s flying over Kurdistan today may have been a fester that these are Kurdish pilots but the real message is clear. Baghdad is showing you it now control's the air. Saber Rattling.
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