The Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-‘Abadi ordered his air force today to start bombing ISIS in Syria, and the Iraqi air force has duly done so, bombing ISIS positions in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province, which adjoins Iraq’s Anbar province.
A video has been released showing the results of air strikes by the Iraqi aircraft (US built F-16s).
This makes the Iraqi air force yet another in the bewildering number of air forces carrying out bombing raids in Syria. Apart from the Russian and Syrian forces, air forces conducting bombing raids in Syria now include the US air force, the Turkish air force, the Israeli air force, and the various air forces that make up the US led anti-ISIS coalition.
The Iraqi air force is probably bombing ISIS in Syria with at least the tacit agreement of the Syrian government, with which it is de facto allied. Importantly it does not appear that Iraq is acting under the aegis of the US led anti-ISIS coalition, which is operating in Syria without permission either from the Syrian government or from the UN Security Council, and which is therefore carrying out air strikes in Syria illegally.
The Iraqi strikes seem to be in effect an extension of the current Iraqi offensive against ISIS in Mosul. They are almost certainly intended to prevent ISIS fighters and supplies being sent from Syria to Iraq, and from Iraq to Syria.
Some months ago there was speculation that there was a US plan to drive the ISIS fighters in Iraq into Syria in order to destabilise the government there.
Whilst that did actually happen to a certain extent, causing the fall of Palmyra to ISIS in December and the ISIS’s attempt to storm Syria’s eastern desert city of Deir Ezzor, the Iraqi air force strikes on ISIS in eastern Syria make that less likely.