Iran attacks Islamic State targets in Iraq

Footage shows Iranian aircraft carrying out airstrikes against jihadists, in first visual confirmation of Tehran’s involvement in fight

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

An American F-4 Phantom (photo credit: US Navy)
An American F-4 Phantom (photo credit: US Navy)

Iranian jets carried out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq’s Diyala Province, new video footage appears to show.

The footage first aired on Al-Jazeera on Sunday and shows F-4 jets bombing IS ground targets in support of the Iraqi forces retaking the Kurdish towns Sa’adiya and Jawlala on November 25. The American-made aircraft have been in use in Iran since the 1960s, purchased in deals between the US government and the Shah. The American air force discontinued their use in the 1990s, as did the Israeli Air Force in 2004.

The joint operation between Iraqi military and Kurdish peshmerga forces to re-take the towns near the Iranian border was Iraq’s largest offensive against the terrorist group since June.

Parts of the Al-Jazeera report included video footage of what the news channel called “Iraqi jet-fighters.” However, military analysts from Jane’s Information Group were quick to point out that the aircraft were actually Iranian F-4 Phantom II jets.

The F-4 Phantom is not in Iraqi service and is only used by two countries in the region, Iran and Turkey, according to reports. The close proximity to the Iranian border, and Turkey’s unwillingness to aid Kurdish forces militarily, indicate that the aircraft almost certainly belong to the Iranian Air Force.

Although Iran has given military aid to the Iraqi army and trained Shiite militias, the Al-Jazeera footage appears to be the first visual confirmation of Iran’s direct involvement in the conflict.

Senior Iranian military officials have indicated that Tehran would take “direct action” if the Sunni extremists attacked Baghdad or Shiite shrines in Iraq.

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