Iran Bombing ISIS? U.S. Officials Suspicious Despite Iranian Denials

Despite denials from the Iranian government, U.S. officials have confirmed they have reason to believe that during the last few days Iran has carried out its first air raids against the Islamic State (ISIS) operating in Iraq, reported Reuters.

Hisham al-Hashemi, an Iraqi security expert, told Reuters a similar story with one large difference — he believes Iran’s attack on ISIS targets took place more than 10 days ago. Iraq itself has also denied the alleged Iranian attack.

“It is true that Iranian planes hit some targets in Diyala. Of course, the government denies it because they have no radars.”

News first broke of the Iranian involvement in the Diyala altercation when an F-4 plane was seen in the background of an Al Jazeera segment on the Iraqi army’s fight against ISIS in the area. The report incorrectly identified it as an Iraqi aircraft. If the video cannot be viewed from your location, you can see the original report here.

But Al Jazeera’s footage made it to discerning eyes who confirmed that the aircraft was definitely from Iran and not from Iraq, as the broadcaster reported. Gareth Jennings of IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly correctly identified it as an Iranian McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II jet.

“At least one F-4 is seen conducting a bombing run against ground targets in the footage shot by Al Jazeera, which erroneously identified the aircraft as an Iraqi fighter. 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.”

Both Iran and the United States have made clear that their plans to avoid becoming allies in the struggle against ISIS still stand. Amidst denials of carrying out the air raid against ISIS at all, an Iranian senior official reiterated to Reuters that there was absolutely no chance Iran would collaborate with the U.S. under any circumstances.

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“Iran has never been involved in any air strikes against Daesh (Islamic State) targets in Iraq. Any cooperation in such strikes with America is also out of question for Iran.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry did not directly address the concerns about Iran’s strike against ISIS, but instead told a news conference in Brussels that Iran was responsible for being upfront about its own military activity, not the United States.

“I am not going to make any announcements, or confirm or deny the reported military action of another country in Iraq. It is up to them (the Iranians) or up to the Iraqis to do that if it did indeed take place.”

Shi’ite Iran bombing the Sunni-led ISIS isn’t difficult to believe — the conflict between the two has been worsening the more the Islamic State’s power grows in the region. Iran has even officially sanctioned Shi’ite militias composed of Iranians fighting ISIS in the region. Iraq, in turn, denies the presence of Iranian soldiers there, reported Reuters.

[Image via Flickr]