World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraq says it has received the first batch of fighter jets it ordered from Russia to help it as it fights an offensive by Sunni rebels.
The defense ministry said in "three to four days" five Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft would enter service.
Over the past three weeks the insurgents control large swathes of the north and west after a string of attacks.
Although rebels dispute this, the government said it had retaken the northern city of Tikrit on Saturday.
State television said 60 rebels had been killed and that preparations were now being made to move north towards rebel-held Mosul.
The rebels said they were pursuing what was left of the army offensive and confirmed the attack had failed during the heavy fighting in the city they took on 11 June.
Iraq's ministry of defence said the deal with Russia "was aimed at increasing the firepower of the air force and the rest of the armed forces in order to fight terrorism".
Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, told the BBC last week that his government had signed a deal that is reportedly worth up to $500m (£293m) with Russia and Belarus to supply jet fighters.
Lenta.ru news agency quoted that a Russian expert said that six Sukhoi SU-30 jets had been sent to Iraq, but this has not yet been confirmed.
Iraq's air force has struggled to impose itself against the rebels. Reports say the air force has run out of certain air-to-ground missiles.
Iraqi military sources have said the offensive on Tikrit is being co-ordinated with American military advisers.
However, even though the US has confirmed that its flying armed drones to protect their personnel’s on ground, officials say the 300 military personnel they sent to aid the government are not directly involved in the hostilities.
Iraq's most influential Shia cleric has called for a prime minister to be appointed by Tuesday to try to defuse the country's political crisis.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said that before the new parliament meets key positions should be agreed on.
Correspondents say Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is seen by many as having precipitated the crisis through sectarian policies that have pushed Iraq's Sunni minority into the hands of rebels loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, though he wants a third term.
Last Mod: 29 Haziran 2014, 11:31