The New York Times reports: Iranian fighter jets struck extremist targets in Iraq recently, Iranian and American officials have confirmed, in the latest display of Tehran’s new willingness to conduct military operations openly on foreign battlefields rather than covertly and through proxies.
The shift stems in part from Iran’s deepening military role in Iraq in the war against the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State. But it also reflects a profound change in Iran’s strategy, stepping from the shadows into a more overt use of hard power as it promotes Shiite influence around the region.
Iranian and Pentagon officials acknowledged that Iran had stepped up its military operations in Iraq last week, using 1970s-era fighter jets to bomb targets in a buffer zone that extends 25 miles into Iraq.
The new military approach highlights an unusual confluence of interests in both Iraq and Syria, where Tehran and Washington find themselves fighting the same enemy in an increasingly public fashion. 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. [Continue reading…]