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Iran Denies It Has Launched Air Strikes In Iraq


Pentagon spokeman Rear Admiral John Kirby

The Pentagon says the United States has indications that Iran has conducted air strikes targeting Islamic State militants in Iraq, while a senior Iranian official flatly denied Tehran has done so.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said on December 2 that there were "indications" that Iran "did indeed" conduct air strikes in eastern Iraq in recent days.

The Iranian official, speaing to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said that "Iran has never been involved in any air strikes against the Daesh (Islamic State) targets in Iraq."

The official added that cooperation with the United States in such strikes "is also out of question for Iran."

The contradictory remarks by Iranian and U.S. officials followed reports suggesting Iranian jets have targeted IS militants in eastern Iraq's Diyala Province.

Kirby said: "We have indications that they did indeed fly air strikes with F-4 Phantoms in the past several days."

He said the United States believes this may be the first time Tehran has used manned aircraft from inside Iran to strike targets in Iraq.

Iran’s U.S.-built F4 Phantom jets were purchased from the United States before the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Kirby said it was up to the Iraqi government to oversee and coordinate military flights by different countries over its airspace.

He said the United States is flying missions over Iraq in coordination with the Iraqi government.

He added: "It's up to the Iraqi government to deconflict that air space.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in Brussels for a meeting of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, said on December 3 that he had no information about any air strikes.

Iran has reportedly been helping Iraqi forces in the fight against IS, which it strongly opposes.

U.S. officials have said repeatedly that Washington has not coordinated military activities against IS militants with Iran.

Iran is not part of the U.S.-led coalition against the IS militants and Tehran did not send representatives to the December 3 coalition talks in Brussels.

But U.S. officials have said that the fight against the militant group has been discussed with Iranian officials on the sidelines of the nuclear negotiations.

The U.S.-led coalition has been conducting air strikes against IS militants in Iraq since August.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, BBC, and AFP
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