(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Friday that the U.S. is aware of Russian and Iranian assistance to the Iraqi military in its fight against militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Hagel affirmed the government’s knowledge, however, after being asked about Russian and Iranian pilots flying combat missions over Iraq. Hagel didn’t directly address the question, prompting a defense official to clarify later that Hagel was only noting American awareness of general support — not of Russian or Iranian pilots flying missions over Iraq.
In recent weeks, Iraq has received aircraft from both Iran and Russia, with questions abound over who is flying the aircraft. Questions that remain unanswered by the Department of Defense.
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Ivana Kottasova, CNN
Sugam Pokharel and AJ Willingham, CNN