Above: IRIAF Sukhoi Su-24MK of a type IqAF escaped to Iran during the Persian Gulf War
According to Middle East Monitor:
A spokesman for the Office of the Adjutant General of the Iraqi armed forces has said that his country has returned 130 military aircraft to Iraq, which were held in Iran for more than 20 years. General Qassim Atta explained in a televised press statement that the Iranian authorities have equipped the aircraft with "sophisticated weapons".
"The planes," said Atta, "will participate in the battles against ISIS to liberate the city of Mosul from its control."
Iraq transferred an undisclosed number of fighter and civilian jets to Iran just before the US-led coalition forces launched air strikes in 1991 following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
Groups of Sunni Arabs, led by ISIS, control a number of Iraqi cities in the north, east and west of the country. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has described those groups as "extremist terrorists". Sunni figures, however, claim that what is happening is a Sunni tribal revolt against the discriminatory policies pursued by the Shiite government of Al-Maliki.Commentary: Rumors of late have have been swirling of Iraqi and Iranian defense officials during the past few days conducting talks in Baghdad, with Iraq requesting Iran provide close air support (CAS) missions in the war against ISIL/allies, and even that Iran return Iraqi combat aircraft flown to sancturary in Iran during the Persian Gulf War.
There are also indications that IRIAF aircraft have recently been engaging in observable, frequent ground attack training missions, including assemblage of all available MiG-29 types at Tabriz / Shahid Fakouri TAB 2, practicing in the attack role with air-lauched munitions.
Additionally, there are rumors of IRIAF Su-24 MK attack aircraft of 72nd TFS making frequent training missions equiped with B series rocket pods firing S-8 type rockets, and dropping FAB type bombs. Primary onjective of training is said related to IRIAF exercise slated for September 2014, with secondary objective in readiness to counter potential ISIL incursion into Iranian territory.
It appears the Baghdad govenrment is signalling closer military ties with Iran given any apparent American reluctance for direct military intervention in the CAS role. That said, it must now be admiited that future reflagging of IRIAF combat aviation assets with IqAF markings engaging in combat missions over Iraq can no longer be entirely discounted.