IRGC Commander: Iraqi pilots trained by Iran to fight against ISIL

FNA – A senior commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force said Iran positively responded to Iraq’s demand to supply the country with Sukhoi 25 fighter jets and train the Iraqi pilots for anti-ISIL missions when it was asked by Baghdad few years ago.

“The ISIL presence in Iraq and its rapid occupation of Iraqi cities made the Iraqi government demand for Iran’s assistance to confront the terrorists,” Brigadier General Pilot Shamseddin Farzadipour said on Saturday.

He added that Iran supplied Iraq with its Sukhoi 25 fighter jets and trained its pilots for 10 days to be prepared for anti-ISIL operations four years ago.

“The Iraqi pilots started air operations in the outskirts of Baghdad two days after the planes were transferred to Iraq and combat operations were conducted with the support of the Iraqi ground forces and Hashd al-Shaabi (popular forces),” Farzadipour said.

Iran and Iraq have enjoyed growing ties ever since the overthrow of the former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, during the 2003 US invasion of the Muslim country.

In relevant remarks in April, Iraqi President Fouad Massoum underlined that his country would always remember Iran’s valuable assistance to Iraq in the fight against terrorism, specially the ISIL terrorist group.

“We will never forget the Iranian assistance and will also back Iran’s supportive stances regarding our country,” President Massoum said in a meeting with Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad Iraj Masjedi.

The Iraqi president described Tehran-Baghdad relations as historic with deep cultural roots, and said, “The bilateral ties are currently at excellent level.”

The Iranian envoy, for his part, reiterated his country’s determination to boost cooperation in various fields such as economy and trade as well as active participation in Iraq’s reconstruction.