Iranian aircraft have been used to bomb Islamic State positions within Iraq, a US official has said, but the action was not coordinated with US forces.
Tehran has not confirmed the use of its jets over Iraq, but footage emerged of ageing US-made F4 jets from the Iranian air force flying over Iraq emerged earlier this week, when Al Jazeera mistakenly described Iranian F4 jets as Iraqi planes, despite Iraq having none of the aircraft in its fleet.
US Rear Adm John Kirby confirmed that Iran flew attack missions against IS targets in Iraq, but both the US and Iran have dismissed any talk of military co-operation between the two nations in the air or on the ground.
Iran has long supported the Assad regime in Syria, with reports of Iranian troops within the country appearing as early as 2011, but the recent air missions appear to be the first time that Iran has become involved in the conflict within Iraqi territory.
Iran and Iraq fought a bloody war for most of the 1980s, known as the First Persian Gulf War, and tensions between the two countries have remained strained. More than a million people lost their lives in the conflict and the last prisoners of war were exchanged as recently as 2003.
Meanwhile, US Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III said today. Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command has said that the US and its coalition partners will continue to focus their intervention on Iraq and that air strikes are having a “decided effect” of weakening IS forces.
“We are enabling the efforts of the Iraqis in their fight against ISIL, acknowledging that, in addition to halting ISIL’s advance, the Iraqis must secure the border. They must regenerate and restructure their forces to ensure that they are able to provide for the sovereignty of their country going forward. And this represents our main focus right now – enabling the efforts of the Iraqis.”