Iraq has put F-16 warplanes acquired from the US into action against Daesh for the first time, the commander of the air force said Sunday.
“Fifteen air strikes were carried out in the past four days,” Staff Lt. Gen. Anwar Hama Amin told AFP following a news conference in Baghdad.
“Smart weapons” were used in the strikes, Amin said, without specifying the type.
Defense Minister Khaled Al-Obaidi told the news conference that the strikes had achieved “important results” and that the jets will have “an impact on the conduct of operations in the future.” Amin told the news conference that the F-16 strikes had taken place in Salaheddin and Kirkuk provinces, north of Baghdad.
The first four Iraqi F-16s arrived from the US in mid-July, out of a total of 36 Washington has agreed to sell to Baghdad.
The purchase had been a source of tension, with Baghdad repeatedly complaining that they have not been delivered quickly enough.
Insecurity in Iraq, where Daesh seized significant territory in June 2014, had delayed the delivery of the jets, with the first batch being sent to Arizona, where Iraqi pilots have been training.
An Iraqi pilot was killed when his F-16 crashed during training in Arizona earlier this year.
F-16 jets are much more sophisticated than other aircraft in Baghdad’s arsenal and will boost Iraq’s capacity for airstrikes, which are currently carried out by aging Sukhoi Su-25 jets, Cessna Caravan turboprop aircraft and various helicopters.
But with foreign aircraft from the international anti-Daesh coalition also carrying out strikes against the terrorists on a daily basis, the delivery is not seen as a game changer in the war against the militants.