Iran initially denied U.S. reports that Tehran has bombed Islamic State targets inside Iraq, despite footage of an Iranian F-4 Phantom captured by Al Jazeera late last month. "Iran has never been involved in any air strikes against Daesh (ISIS) targets in Iraq," an unidentified Iranian official told Reuters early Wednesday. The denial didn't hold for long, or maybe it's a question of semantics.
Later Wednesday, Iranian politician Hamid Reza Taraghi told The New York Times that Iran has, indeed, carried out airstrikes against ISIS militants in a 25-mile buffer zone inside Iraq, which Iraq doesn't recognize. "We do not tolerate any threats within the buffer zone, and these targets were in the vicinity of the buffer zone," he said, adding that dozens of militants were killed in the strikes.
The U.S. and Iran both deny that there is any coordination in their battles against ISIS, but it's still awkward that "Tehran and Washington find themselves fighting the same enemy in an increasingly public fashion," explain Tim Arango and Thomas Erdbrink at The New York Times. "While there is no direct coordination between Iran and the United States, there is a de facto nonaggression pact that neither side is eager to acknowledge." Iran and the U.S. haven't had formal diplomatic relations since 1979.