Iraq Coordinated With Syrian Government on anti-ISIS Air Strikes

Iraqi air force used F-16 jets to cross into Syria and carry out the strikes

In this Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 photo, an Iraqi pilot checks a U.S.- made Iraqi Air Force F-16 fighter jet at the Balad Air Base, 45 miles (75 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq.
Khalid Mohammed/AP

Iraq's air strikes on Islamic State positions in Syria on Thursday were carried out in coordination with Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, an Iraqi military spokesman told Reuters. 

The Iraqi air force used F-16 jets to cross into Syria and carry out the strikes, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said. 

"The strikes against [ISIS] gangs in the Syrian territory is due to the threat these gangs pose to Iraqi territory, and demonstrates the increased capabilities of our valiant armed forces in pursuing and eliminating terrorism," read a tweet on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi's office account.

It added that these strikes "will accelerate the elimination" of Islamic State's presence in the region. 

Earlier this month, Abadi had said Iraq would "take all necessary measures if they threaten the security of Iraq", referring to the jihadist militants who just three years ago overran a third of Iraq. 

The prime minister declared final victory over the ultra hardline group in December but it still poses a threat from pockets along the border with Syria and has continued to carry out ambushes, assassinations and bombings across Iraq. 

Iraq currently has good relations with Iran and Russia, Assad's main backers in the seven-year Syrian civil war, while also enjoying strong support from the U.S.-led coalition. 

DPA contributed to this report.