Troops and Tanks Crossed Border at Khanaqin
Hundreds of Iranian soldiers have taken part in a joint operation inside Iraq with Kurdish Peshmerga forces to retake the city of Jalula held by the Islamic State insurgents, Kurdish security sources have told Al Jazeera.
The Aljazeera report said the Iranian soldiers (most probably Artesh troops) crossed the border at Khanaqin on Friday in the first deployment of ground forces to Iraq during the current conflict. Elements of an Iranian armored brigade also reportedly took part in the operation.
The Kurdish security official told Aljazeera that the Iranian forces retreated back across the border on Saturday. Jalula, fewer than 30km (19 miles) from the Iranian border, is a strategic point for both countries.
A photo of what Uskowi on Iran has identified as an Artesh (regular military) M-60A1 main battle tank aboard tank transporter entering the Iraqi border city of Khanaqin is the first indication that Artesh has intervened in Iraq since the end of Iran-Iraq War of 1980. If Jazeera's report about the armor units and Iranian troops going back to Iran is accurate, it would show that the Iranian military - Artesh- was deployed into Iraq to prevent an ISIL attack on Iran's western region.
“Previously there had been Iranian assistance with security advisers and Iranian backed militias, but this does seem to be the first time soldiers have been involved,” Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reported from the Kurdish capital of Erbil. (Aljazeera, 23 August)
Photo: A photo published in social media possibly showing Iranian military (Artesh) ground forces' M-60A1 main battle tanks aboard tank transporters entering the Iraqi border city of Khanaqin. Friday 22 August 2014.