BAGHDAD - Iraq has agreed to purchase 24 combat and training aircraft from the Czech Republic for about $1 billion as part of its program to rebuild its air force, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's media adviser said on Friday.

Iraq will buy Czech L159 jets with the first planes arriving over the next seven months, Ali al-Moussawi said.

Iraq has no real air force since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and Baghdad says it will not be able to defend its airspace until 2020. Iraq is also purchasing US-made F-16 fighter jets.

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