WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the United States is aware of Russian and Iranian assistance to the Iraqi military in its fight against Islamic extremists, but the U.S. is not coordinating with either Russia or Iran.
Hagel was asked at a Pentagon news conference Friday about reports that Iranian and Russian planes are flying combat missions over northern Iraq and why Washington is not seeking to coordinate with them. Hagel responded indirectly by saying he was aware of Russian and Iran assistance. A defense official said later that Hagel did not mean to suggest that Russian or Iranian pilots are flying in Iraqi airspace.
The defense official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal assessments of Russian and Iranian actions.