Iran Sends Three Russian Attack Aircraft to Iraq to Fight Militants
MOSCOW, July 9 (RIA Novosti) – The Iranian authorities have sent three Russian Sukhoi Su-25 jets to Iraq to be used to fight militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the New York Times reported, citing sources in the administrations of the US and Iraq.
The aircraft 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, an official representative of the Iraqi authorities said.
'Iran, understating the urgency of our situation on the ground, gave us some of our own planes back,' the official said, noting that the aircraft are being navigated by Iraqi pilots.
Washington believes that one of the aircraft is piloted by an Iranian. The jets have already participated in several operations in the eastern Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah and in the northern town of Baiji, where the country's largest refinery is located, according to US officials. However, it was not specified if the jets had used bombs in the missions.
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.
'We have no indications that there are Iranian ground troops inside Iraq,' Admiral Kirby said, stressing that the US does not intend to coordinate any military actions with Tehran.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (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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