Iran is joining in America’s fight against the Islamic State in eastern Iraq through a series of missile strikes.
According to CBS, the U.S. military is aware of the airstrikes throughout Iraq’s Diyala province, and the airstrikes are in coordination with Iraqi troops on the ground.
Iran has experienced a more prominent role in the Iraq war against the Sunni Muslim extremists. It has also been noted that this is latest display of Iran conducting military business out in the open rather than being secretive. This shift may represent an important change in strategy for Iran in the future.
The coordination of the American government and Tehran has been more prevalent as both countries look to take down the same enemies in both Iraq and Syria. While Iranian and U.S. officials are not coordinating attack plans together, there is a clear and unofficial pact in place that no side is willing to acknowledge.
“We are flying missions over Iraq, we coordinate with the Iraqi government as we conduct those,” Pentagon spokesperson Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, said Tuesday, according to The New York Times. “It’s up to the Iraqi government to de-conflict that airspace.”
While there is no direct acknowledgement of the cooperation between U.S. and Iranian officials, according to CNN, the Obama administration is attempting to open communication with Iran about fighting the Islamic State.
According to The New York Times, the once elusive Iranian military leader, Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who has usually been involved with coordinating covert military terrorist attacks, has begun to emerge out of the shadows. Pictures of Suleimani have become more prevalent on social media, depicting him on the Iraqi battlefields, according to The New York Times.
The increasingly legitimate role of this Iranian hard power is noticeable, according to American officials. The Iranian military is also decisively working to protect Baghdad from Islamic State influence.
While this influence is noticeable, according to The New York Times, American officials also have legitimate concerns about the affect that an increased Iranian presence could have in further destabilizing the Iraqi government.
“Our message to Iran is the same today as it was when it started, and as it is to any neighbor in the region that is involved in the anti-ISIL activities,” Kirby said. “And that’s that we want nothing to be done that further inflames sectarian tensions in the country.”
CNN also reported that coordination with Tehran was not something that U.S. officials will confirm or address directly.
“With respect to Iran, we’re not coordinating with Iran, as you know,” said Gen. Lloyd Austin, according to CNN.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also stressed that the U.S. and Iran would not directly cooperate.
“The United States will not cooperate militarily with Iran in that effort,” Earnest said, according to CNN. “We won’t share intelligence with them.”
Editor’s Note: Information from CBS, CNN and The New York Times was used in this report.