Iran said to up Iraqi support with targeted airstrikes on Islamic State

Iranian jets have carried out airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State militants in recent days, U.S. officials and independent analysts say, underscoring the strange alliances generated by the war against the extremist group that has beheaded Americans and blown up rivals’ holy sites. American Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday welcomed any Iranian military action against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq as “positive” after the Pentagon said Tehran had carried out air strikes against the group. Iran refused to confirm or deny carrying out any such strikes and supports the Syrian government of Bashar Assad, which the U.S. wants to remove.

At this point our calculation about the wisdom of cooperating with the Iranians hasn’t changed. We’re not going to do it.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest

The IS conflict has created a constantly shifting patchwork of regional alliances, the most unlikely being that of Washington and Tehran. The two nations are locked in tough negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. But at the same time, the two have been fighting parallel campaigns on the same side to defend the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government - and the region’s Kurds - from IS militants who have seized large sections of Iraq and Syria. Iranian forces have been active on the ground in Iraq assisting Shiite militia and Baghdad government units, but this was the first time the United States had said the Iranian air force was taking part.

It has advisers in country. It provides Iraq with weapons and ammunition. If Iran has carried out airstrikes against [IS], in coordination with the Iraqi government, it is a welcomed step.

Hakim al-Zamili, Shiite Iraqi lawmaker and Security and Defense Committee chair