posted at 20:50
Author Name: Dan De Luce
US says Iranian fighter jets bomb IS jihadists in Iraq
"We are flying missions over Iraq. We coordinate with the Iraqi government as we conduct those. It's up to the Iraqi government to deconflict that air space," Kirby told reporters. Even if there is no direct communication between the two countries' forces, the Americans likely would be aware and easily monitor flights over Iraq by Iran's less sophisticated air fleet, which uses a fighter jet that dates back to the Vietnam War. A US air command center 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 the IS in Iraq has forged an unlikely alignment between Iran and the United States, which have been locked in a cold war for more than three decades. The fight against the IS has come amid a US diplomatic drive to agree a deal with Iran over its nuclear program, and officials acknowledge the two sides have discussed the war in Iraq on the margins of the nuclear talks. Iranian weapons have made their way to Shiite fighters in Iraq, including 12.7 mm rifles designed to penetrate armored vehicles and multiple rocket launchers, according to a report by IHS Jane's Defence. The commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, Major General Qassem Suleimani, led a counter-attack in Iraq over the summer that pushed back IS militants from a key route leading from Samarra to Baghdad, according to Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah. Iranian television last month released a rare photo of Suleimani in Iraq with Kurdish peshmerga fighters, promoting Tehran's role in the fight against IS. Iran has declined to join the US-led coalition against the IS group and publicly dismissed the air war, but Tehran's Iraqi allies have benefited from the strikes against the jihadists.

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