Ukrainian military plane lands in Iraq, says passenger

Image copyright AFP Image caption The pilot told passengers his route was not dangerous A Ukrainian military plane has landed in Iraq with 86 people on board, one of whom is a Russian and…

Ukrainian military plane lands in Iraq, says passenger

Image copyright AFP Image caption The pilot told passengers his route was not dangerous

A Ukrainian military plane has landed in Iraq with 86 people on board, one of whom is a Russian and the rest Ukrainians.

The plane had taken off from Poland and crossed the border into Iran before heading to Iraqi airspace.

There has been no immediate word on the health of the passengers, including 15 Syrians.

Nearly 40,000 people are still being held in camps in northern Iraq and near the Syrian border as they wait to be able to return home.

Reports are trickling in of the Russian passenger, who is believed to be a citizen of Belarus, saying on Russian state TV that he is “happy and very happy to be out”.

The pilot had made a last-minute call to give passengers an update on his route, saying it was not dangerous, said an unnamed passenger who boarded the plane.

He added that it was a lucky flight to land at the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, as the Iraqi military has been on a campaign to retake Islamic State group jihadists from its territory.

The plane originated from the southern Ukrainian city of Zaklad in a US Air Force-operated C-130J Hercules transport plane which dropped its load in Syria.

Ukraine has historically been friendly with Russia. But relations deteriorated when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

Viktor Yanukovych – who had been Ukraine’s president, but fled to Russia – was ousted in February 2014 following mass protests in Kiev.

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