Iran and Iraq have agreed to cooperate in the area of air defense to fend off the challenges facing their air spaces, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Mohammad Baqeri told reporters on April 7 after meeting with his Iraqi counterpart, Lt. Gen. Othman al-Ghanimi, who is visiting Tehran.
“It was agreed that the countries’ air defense sectors work together and more coordination be made in this regard,” the Iranian Press TV quoted Maj. Gen. Baqeri as saying.
Baqeri explained that this coordination is aimed at facing any aerial threats that may come from Iran’s western borders. The Iranian commander was likely hinting at Israel. Many experts believe that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) will have to pass through the Iraqi airspace, if it ever wanted to strike positions in Iran.
The Iraqi Air Defense Force lost all of its equipment in the 2003 US-led invasion. Now the force relays only on 24 Russian-made Pantsir-S1 and 8 US-made TWQ-1 Avenger air defense systems. These systems don’t cover Iraq airspace and can’t intercept targets flying at high altitude. This explains the importance of the new agreement with Iran, which could boost the Iraqi Air Defense Force capabilities.
Iraqi commander, Lt. Gen. Ghanimi arrived in Tehran as part of a delegation accompanying Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi. In the first day of the visit, the delegation met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
During the meeting, Khamenei told the Iraqi delegation that they should expel US forces from Iraq as soon as possible. The request came as the U.S. is working to designate the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.
The new Iranian-Iraq agreement and Khamenei’s request indicate that Tehran is planning to counter the US-Israeli pressure by strengthening relations with neighbors and regional allies. The Islamic country made similar steps when U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal last year.
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