Iran confirms it carried out air strikes in Iraq
The comments are the first confirmation of Iranian air strikes since U.S. officials claimed the Iran's air force carried out attacks
A senior Iranian official confirmed on Friday that his country had carried out air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in Iraq, in an interview with UK-based daily The Guardian.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Rahimpour told the newspaper in London that the air strikes were carried out at the request of the Baghdad government but was not coordinated with Washington.
“In this matter, we did not have any coordination with the Americans. We have coordinated only with the Iraqi government,” the newspaper quoted Rahimpour as saying.
“In general, every military operation to help the Iraqi government is according to their requests,” he added.
The purpose of the strikes was for “the defense of the interests of our friends in Iraq” who he defined as the Baghdad government and the autonomous northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan, who are both fighting ISIS.
The comments by Rahimpour are the first official confirmation of air strikes by Tehran since U.S. officials said earlier this week the Iranian air force carried out attacks in Iraq.
Iran at the time refused to confirm it had taken such action.
Air strikes would be politically sensitive as Washington and Tehran are historic enemies despite finding themselves on the same side against ISIS.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said he had no knowledge of any Iranian air strikes.
Rahimpour said Iran would intervene to prevent Iraq deteriorating like its neighbour Syria, torn apart by a civil war which has killed nearly 200,000 people and displaced more than half its population.
“We will not allow conditions in Iraq to descend to the level of Syria, which has been created by foreign players,” Rahimpour told The Guardian.
“And certainly our assistance [to Iraq] is stronger than our assistance to Syria, because they are nearer to us.
Rahimpour also repeated Tehran’s insistence it has only military advisers in Iraq, rather than ground troops. “This is only an advisory presence. There is no need to send Iranian troops to Iraq. There are sufficient Iraqi and Kurdish troops there,” he said.
Iran has consistently denied having troops in Iraq, and was not invited to join a U.S.-led military coalition against ISIS, who have carved out a vast region of control in the country and neighboring Syria.
- ISIS executes three Iraq tribal leaders in Mosul
- France conducts ‘major’ raids on ISIS in Iraq
- France ready to ‘step up’ action against ISIS in Iraq
- Iraqi army repels ISIS attack on Baiji oil refinery
- Iraq: ‘ghost’ retirees received $1 bn in salaries
- 1800GMT: Obama ‘confident’ on pushing back ISIS in Iraq
- 1300GMT: Iran denies launching strikes against ISIS in Iraq
- Iraq says woman detained in Lebanon is not Baghdadi's wife