Iranian Jets Launch Strikes Against ISIS Targets in Eastern Iraq

Iran-F-4-490x326Iran’s military has denied that it is cooperating with US-led air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq but has not directly rejected allegations that it is bombarding ISIS targets in Iraq.

Footage showing what appeared to be an F-4 fighter jet, similar to those used by the Iranian air force, carrying out air strikes in the eastern province of Diyala on November 30, prompting media reports that Iran was involved in the US-led coalition against ISIS.

The Pentagon on Tuesday said it had no reason to doubt reports that Iranian fighter jets had bombed ISIS targets in Diyala.

“I have seen those reports. We have no indication that the reports are not true that Iranian aircraft have conducted air strikes, in the last several days, against ISIS targets in eastern Iraq, ” John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said.

“Again, you should consult the Iranian government to speak to the activities of their government.”

Israeli media suggested it was highly unlikely that Iranian fighter jets would be operating in the same area as the international coalition without significant coordination.

However, the deputy chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces dismissed those reports as “totally untrue”.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran blames the United States as the root cause of unrest and problems as well as the terrorist actions of ISIS in Iraq,” Iran’s state news agency FARS quoted General Massoud Jazayeri, as saying.

Kirby also said that “nothing has changed about our policy of not coordinating military activity with the Iranians”.

Jane’s Defence Weekly identified the war plane shown in the footage as an “Iranian McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II jet”.

“Iran and Turkey are the only regional operators of the F-4, and the location of the incident not far from the Iranian border, and Turkey’s unwillingness to get involved in the conflict militarily, indicate this to be an Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) aircraft,” Jane’s Defence Weekly wrote.

A US air command centre in Qatar coordinates American fighters, bombers, drones and surveillance aircraft flying round-the-clock missions over Iraq along with other coalition warplanes from European governments as well as Australia and Canada.

The onslaught of ISIS in Iraq has forged an unlikely alignment between Iran and the US, which have been locked in a cold war for more than three decades. The fight against the ISIS has come amid a US diplomatic drive to agree a deal with Iran over its nuclear programme, and officials acknowledge the two sides have discussed the war in Iraq on the margins of the nuclear talks.

But the two rivals remain deeply opposed over Syria, with Iran providing crucial military backing for President Bashar al-Assad while the US has pledged to train a moderate rebel force to eventually confront the Assad government.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a meeting of ministers from the 60 members of the anti-ISIS coalition in Brussels on Wednesday.

The countries gathered to discuss their strategy aimed to defeat the armed group, which controls large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria.

Military strategy topped the agenda of the meeting but the delegates would also discuss how to stop the flow of foreign fighters joining ISIS.

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