The White House says the U.S. policy against cooperating with Iran to fight Islamic militants remains in place despite Iranian air strikes in Iraq. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION The White House declared on Wednesday (December 3) that it will not coordinate with Iran in the battle against Islamic militants in Iraq. "We're not going to do it," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest at a briefing in Washington, D.C. The U.S. officials said on Wednesday that they have indications that Iran has carried out air strikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq in recent days in what appeared to be the first such operations by Iran's air force. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States had indications that Iran had used F-4 Phantoms to launch the raids in Diyala near the Iranian border in the last several days. But Earnest said that the U.S. will not change its policy of not cooperating with Iran. "Well, we certainly do care deeply about the safety of American pilots and American service, military personnel that are operating in this region of the world. At the same time, there are also reasons to believe that directly coordinating militarily with a country like Iran, a country that actively supports terrorist organizations, that it's not necessarily in the best interests of our military personnel to be sharing significant intelligence information or to be directly coordinating with them militarily. That's something that I'm confident will be evaluated on an ongoing basis with this priority in mind, which is the safety of our men and women who are operating in the area. At this point, our calculations about the wisdom of cooperating militarily with the Iranians has not changed," Earnest said. A Pentagon spokesman declined to go into details about the air raids during a media briefing. Officials said the strikes appeared to be the first carried out by the Iranian air force. A British-based analyst said footage on Al Jazeera television of an F-4 Phantom striking Islamic State in Diyala was the first visual evidence of direct Iranian air force involvement in the conflict. The prospect of U.S. and Iranian militaries separately carrying out air strikes in the same country raises questions about the degree of advanced coordination that might be needed, even indirectly, to avoid a mishap. The U.S. military detailed on Wednesday 11 more strikes in Iraq. But officials noted that there were no U.S. air operations or American troops on the ground in the areas where they said Iranian aircraft had operated. A senior Iranian official said no raids had been carried out and Tehran had no intention of cooperating with Washington. Iran backs the Iraqi Shi'ite militias which are battling Islamic State and has sent senior commanders to help advise the Iraqi army and militia operations since the group took parts of northern Iraq in the summer. Iraqi officials say there are no Iranian troops on its soil.