Czechs propose to send pilot trainers to Iraq

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The Czech defense minister says he is planning to send about 30 instructors and military technicians to Iraq to train pilots for Czech-made planes.

Martin Stropnicky says the Czech initiative is part of international efforts to help Iraq fight Islamic State militants and he discussed it during a meeting in Brussels with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

The Czechs have agreed to sell to Iraq 15 Czech-made L-159 light combat planes. The deal is currently waiting for the green light from Britain. On a visit to Brussels Thursday, Stropnicky said he hopes Britain will soon lift its objections.

The Czechs have already trained four Iraqi plane pilots and dozens of helicopter pilots in the Czech Republic. They have also given the Iraqi army weapons, ammunition, grenades and anti-tank grenade launchers.