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Iraqi F-16s to fly out of Iraq, not Jordan

Iraqi F-16s and pilots will not be based out of Jordan, as reported by Iraqi media, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said.

Abed Issawi, a Shiite member of Iraq's parliament, had told reporters that that the U.S. government was demanding that the Iraqi F-16s fly combat missions from Jordan, not Iraq, according to Rudaw, a Kurdish media outlet.

"We have information the US has decided that the three F-16s should carry out airstrikes from the land of Jordan while Iraq has a big airbase in the Ziqar province in southern Iraq," Rudaw quoted Issawi as saying.

But embassy spokesman Jeffrey Loree said media reports that the planes and pilots would operate out of Jordan were "completely false."

"The Government of Iraq has purchased 36 F-16 aircraft and we remain committed to fulfilling the delivery of those aircraft as soon as possible," Loree said in a news release Monday to Iraqi media. "We are working with the Government of Iraq to deliver the initial tranche of F-16 aircrafts to Iraq this summer as scheduled. These aircrafts will be delivered to and operated from Balad Air Base in Iraq."

Iraqi pilots are currently training on F-16s with the Arizona National Guard's 162nd Wing. On June 24, Iraqi Brig. Gen. Rasid Mohammed Sadiq Hasan was killed when the F-16 he was flying crashed.

"General Hasan was a courageous pilot who was one of the first Iraqi airmen to come to the United States to train in the use of Iraqi F-16s that will soon be flying missions over our homeland," Iraq's ambassador to the U.S. Lukman Faily said in a June 25 statement. "General Hasan was an essential part of a critical program to boost Iraqi security with Iraqi pilots flying Iraqi planes."

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