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First Batch Of U.S. F-16 Delivered To Iraq


Members of Iraq's Shi'ite paramilitaries launch a rocket towards Islamic State militants on the outskirts of the city of Falluja, in the province of Anbar on July 12.

Members of Iraq's Shi'ite paramilitaries launch a rocket towards Islamic State militants on the outskirts of the city of Falluja, in the province of Anbar on July 12.

The Iraqi government said in a statement that Iraq received a first batch of F-16 fighter jets from the United States on July 13.

Four warplanes landed in Iraq at the Balad air base, north of Baghdad, the first part of a much-delayed delivery aimed at boosting the ailing Iraqi military's capacity, the defense ministry said.

Iraq ordered 36 of the $65 million Lockheed Martin Corp planes, but initial deliveries were delayed because of security concerns after the Islamic State militant group overran large areas of the country last year.

The delivery comes as the Iraqi military announced the launch of an offensive on July 13 to retake the western Anbar province from the extremist group.​

The spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, Yahya Rasool, announced in a televised statement that the operations started at dawn on July 13.

He didn't give any details of the operation but military officers have said the initial target will be the city of Fallujah, about 50 km west of Baghdad.

The offensive comes two months after IS militants seized Anbar's capital Ramadi, extending their control over the Sunni Muslim province.

It's not the first time Iraqi officials have announced an operation to retake Anbar.

In May, the Baghdad government announced an offensive to retake Ramadi, but there has not been any major progress on the ground since then.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters
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