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Russia to use Iraqi airspace for anti-Daesh strikes

A still image, taken from video footage and released by Russia's Defense Ministry on July 21, 2016, shows a Russian TU-22M flying in Homs province, Syria. (Reuters)

Baghdad says Russia has been permitted to conditionally use Iraqi airspace for anti-Daesh airstrikes in Syria.

“We opened our skies to the Russians under some conditions. We have not received an official request from Russia about the passage of any types of rockets across our skies,” said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (seen below) during a press conference in Baghdad on Tuesday.

He noted that Russian planes will be using border corridors for their strikes and will not be flying over Iraqi cities.

“I allowed the bombers to fly over because we received clear information about them. They make precise strikes, avoid casualties among civilians. So, we will consider all the requests concerning security of civilians in Syria,” Abadi added.

Russia has been bombing Daesh and other Takfiri terrorist groups in Syria at the official request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since September 30, 2015.   

Abadi made the remarks following an announcement by the Russian Defense Ministry that Russian warplanes have taken off from an airbase in the western Iranian city of Hamedan to target Takfiri terrorists and other militants in Syria.

According to the statement, the attacks destroyed a number of training camps, command centers, and large arms and fuel depots belonging to the militant groups near the village of Jafra and the city of Dayr al-Zawr, adding that a large number of militants were killed in the air raids.

Following the announcement, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said that Iran and Russia are engaged in “strategic” cooperation and exchange of capacities to fight terrorism in Syria.

Syria has been gripped by a foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

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