Iraqi officials have discovered that they may have a real air force, after all.
The Defense Ministry revealed Sunday that it had recently learned that Iraq owns 19 MIG-21 and MIG-23 jet fighters, which are in storage in Serbia. Ministry officials are negotiating with the Serbs to restore and return the aircraft.
The Serbian government has tentatively promised to make two of the aircraft available “for immediate use,” according to a news release from the ministry. The rest would be restored on a rush basis, the ministry said.
An Iraqi delegation went to Serbia as part of an effort by the government to locate assets stashed abroad by Saddam Hussein to evade sanctions. Serbia had had friendly relations with Mr. Hussein’s government.
During that visit, Serbian defense officials told the Iraqis that Mr. Hussein had sent 19 fighter jets to Serbia for repairs in the late 1980s, during the Iran-Iraq war, but was unable to bring them back after sanctions were imposed on his country. [continued…]