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IRAQ WARS
Iran says it carried out air strikes in Iraq: report
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Dec 05, 2014


Paris says 'major' anti-IS raid taking place in Iraq
Paris (AFP) Dec 05, 2014 - France said Friday its fighter jets were conducting a "major" raid in Iraq as part of the US-led coalition offensive against the Islamic State group, days after members said the strikes were having effect.

"At the moment, a major raid is taking place," Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFMTV, refusing to detail the targets or the number of jets involved.

He said French planes based in the United Arab Emirates and more recently in Jordan had carried out "120 to 130 missions" since the start of the coalition offensive.

These include intelligence gathering missions. Compared to the United States, France has carried out only a handful of strikes on the militants.

The coalition of around 60 mainly Western and Arab states was formed several months after IS jihadists swept across northern Iraq, seizing swathes of territory and proclaiming a caliphate in parts of the country and neighbouring Syria.

Paris has so far refused to join the United States in its air war against IS in Syria, but on Wednesday, President Francois Hollande said France was ready to step up its actions against the militants in Iraq.

The same day, a meeting in Brussels of countries in the coalition concluded that the IS group's advance was finally being stopped thanks to the strikes -- a claim reiterated Friday by Le Drian.

"But this halt does not mean that the war is over," he warned.

In an interview this week with French weekly Paris Match, however, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad differed, saying the strikes were having no impact.

Le Drian hit out at Assad's comments.

"It's vile for someone who has the deaths of 200,000 of his countrymen and women on his conscience to give lessons," he said.

A senior Iranian official said the country's military had conducted air strikes against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq, in an interview with British newspaper The Guardian.

Deputy foreign minister Ebrahim Rahimpour told the paper Iran conducted strikes for "the defence of the interests of our friends in Iraq", who he defined as the Baghdad government and the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, who are both fighting IS.

"In this matter, we did not have any coordination with the Americans. We have coordinated only with the Iraqi government," the newspaper quoted Rahimpour as saying.

"In general, every military operation to help the Iraqi government is according to their requests."

It would be the first official confirmation of air strikes by Tehran since US officials said earlier this week the Iranian air force carried out attacks in Iraq.

Iran at the time refused to confirm it had taken such action.

Air strikes would be politically sensitive as Washington and Tehran are historic enemies despite finding themselves on the same side against IS.

Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi has said he had no knowledge of any Iranian air strikes.

Rahimpour said Iran would intervene to prevent Iraq deteriorating like its neighbour Syria, torn apart by a civil war which has killed nearly 200,000 people and displaced more than half its population.

"We will not allow conditions in Iraq to descend to the level of Syria, which has been created by foreign players," Rahimpour told The Guardian.

"And certainly our assistance (to Iraq) is stronger than our assistance to Syria, because they are nearer to us.

Iran has consistently denied having troops in Iraq, and was not invited to join a US-led military coalition against IS extremists, who have carved out a vast region of control in the country and neighbouring Syria.

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