Iran Denies Sending Russian Fighter Jets to Iraq - Reports
MOSCOW, July 9 (RIA Novosti) - The Iranian authorities have denied reports saying the country sent three Russian Sukhoi Su-25 jets to Iraq, Mehr news agency said Wednesday citing a representative of Iran's Foreign Ministry Marzieh Afkham.
The New York Times cited sources in the administrations of the US and Iraq earlier in the day as saying that Iran sent the jets for Iraq to use to fight militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).
The paper specified the jets participated in several operations in the eastern Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah and in the northern town of Baiji, which hosts the country's largest refinery. They were originally owned by the Iraqi Air Force and were sent to Iran for safekeeping during the military conflict in the Persian Gulf in 1991.
The newspaper also cited Pentagon spokesman John Kirby as saying that the department had evidence that Iran had sent military advisers, aircraft, weapons and ammunition to Iraq.
Afkham said Iran had never sent attack aircraft or other military equipment to Iraq.
ISIS is a Sunni group that has been fighting in Syria against the country's president, Bashar Assad, and launched an offensive in Iraq this June, taking over large parts of the country, with the goal of seizing Baghdad.
On June 29, the group declared itself a Caliphate and announced its rebranding as the Islamic State (IS). The IS claims religious authority over all Muslims and aspires to bring much of the Muslim-inhabited world under its direct political control.
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