The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved  the sale of 24 Apache helicopters to Iraq after receiving assurances from Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki that their use wouldl be restricted to fighting al-Qaida terrorists. Sen. Bob Menendez, the Democratic committee chairman, and other lawmakers had blocked the long-term transfer of the helicopters for months over concerns that the Iraqi government could use them for internal crackdowns. The deal is worth an estimated $1.37 bn.

DEBKAfile: Even with Appache copters, the Iraqi army is incapable of recovering the wide tracts of land al Qaeda has captured in central and western Iraq, or retaking the large towns of Falujja and Ramadi.