(AFP) – Aug 29, 2009
BAGHDAD — An Iraqi military delegation has gone to Serbia to bring back 19 MiG fighter planes that Saddam Hussein's regime sent for servicing 20 years ago, the defence ministry said on Saturday.
"General Othman al-Fredji, a defence ministry adviser, and Anwar Mohammed Amin, head of the air force, are in Serbia negotiating the return (of the planes) at the earliest possible date," spokesman General Mohammed al-Askari said.
The Soviet-built MiG-21 and 23 aircraft, whose existence has just been discovered, "were sent by Saddam's government in 1989 for maintenance and everything was paid for with Iraqi money," he said.
Askari said the planes are important for Iraq as "our air force only possesses helicopters."
The former Yugoslavia was a major exporter of arms to Saddam's dictatorship before breaking up in the 1990s.
Askari said the ministry "is searching in the United States, France, Italy, Russia and some Arab countries to locate funds or military equipment that the former government bought for its army."
Iraq has found two navy vessels belonging to it in Egypt and two others moored in Italy as well as "aircraft and equipment in Russia and France," the spokesman said, without giving further details.
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