BAGHDAD - Iraq's acting defense minister is in Russia negotiating the purchase of air surveillance equipment to help Iraq rebuild its crippled military defenses, a lawmaker said on Thursday.
American troops pulled out of Iraq in December, leaving the war-battered country to defend its own borders and airspace for the first time since it was occupied in 2003.
Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq's air force was one of the largest in the region with hundreds of mainly Soviet-designed jets. But its military was disbanded after the US-led invasion in 2003 deposed of Saddam.
"There is a delegation, headed by the minister of defense and the commander of the air force, that went to Russia to negotiate the supply of early warning systems, radars and some other civil defense apparatuses," Hakim al-Zamili, a member of the parliamentary security and defense committee, told Reuters.