Iraq inks deal for $2.7 billion US military loan

Jun 29, 2016 12:00 AM

Iraq secured a deal Wednesday for a $2.7 billion US loan to finance the buying of ammunition and maintenance of tanks and fighters used in the fight against the Islamic State group.

A US embassy statement said the declaration of intent was signed by Ambassador Stuart Jones and Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

The US Foreign Military Finance credit facility will help Iraq "defer payment for the purchase of ammunition and maintenance of its F-16s (jets) and M1A1 (Abrams) tanks," Jones said.

The deal gives Iraq eight-and-a-half years to pay for its military purchases, in what the statement said was part of Washington's efforts to ensure Baghdad's economic difficulties do not affect the fight against IS.

Iraq, whose economy is overwhelmingly reliant on oil, is facing a bruising budget crunch caused by the drop in crude prices and the ongoing cost of the war on IS.

The United States, which occupied Iraq for eight years, is the lead nation in a coalition providing Iraq with assistance in the form of air strikes, military advising and training.

Under the current strategic framework agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, work is being done to ensure that Iraq's current economic challenges do not affect the continuing campaign to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group, the embassy said.

The announcement comes after news Sunday that the Iraqi army had "fully liberated" the city of Fallujah, which IS took over in 2014.

Last week, the U.S. Army awarded a $30.9 million contract to BH Defense for work on the Iraq International Academy in Baghdad.

Also this month, the U.S. State Department approved a possible foreign military sale to Iraq for AC-208 Combat Caravan sustainment, logistics and spares support worth $181 million.

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