BAGHDAD, IRAQ (Worthy News)– The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were surrounding at least two major military bases in Northern Iraq while Iraq expects a shipment of Russian-made jets within a few days to "turn the tide" in the war.
The Air Force base in Balad just 54 miles north of Baghdad, formerly known as Camp Anaconda, which contains the largest airfield in the country is surrounded according to the latest reports.
The base was designated as a launch pad against the jihadists in Northern Iraq, and slated to house a new fleet of U.S. made F-16 fighter-jets.
All U.S. Military personnel evacuated the base on June 13 as ISIL began their assault.
There is a total of "approximately 500 American military personnel in Iraq," the U.S. Defense Department said on June 26.
The U.S. Military advisers on the ground are protected by armed U.S. Drones. The drones role is "force protection," according to the Defense Department. The drones are supporting manned and unmanned aircraft making between 30-40 missions daily.
Meanwhile, Iraqi troops backed by helicopter gunships launched an major operation against ISIL in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, on Saturday. Heavy fighting was taking place and concrete details coming from the region are sketchy at best.
Residents told multiple media outlets said the Iraqi assault was thwarted by ISIL, while Iraqi State Television said security forces cleared the town of jihadists.
RUSSIAN JETS COMING TO IRAQ
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Maliki told the BBC, Iraq expected jets from Russia and Belarus to arrive within a few days to turn the tide against the rebels.
“God willing within one week this force will be effective and will destroy the terrorists' dens," he told the BBC.
"I'll be frank and say that we were deluded when we signed the contract [with the US]," he added.
"We should have sought to buy other jet fighters like British, French and Russian to secure the air cover for our forces; if we had air cover we would have averted what had happened," he concluded.
Maliki said Iraq expects the purchased second-hand jet fighters from Russia and Belarus to arrive in Iraq within two or three days.