One day after Israeli planes struck targets in Syria, Syrian warplanes attacked targets inside Iraq late on Tuesday, a sign of the broadening conflict.
The airstrikes hit several sites in Anbar, the province in western Iraq that's increasingly come under the control of the Sunni radical group ISIS. As many as 50 people were said to have been killed in the attacks. From the Washington Post:
Iraqi state media initially reported that the attacks near Iraq’s western border with Syria were carried out by U.S. drones, a claim that was quickly and forcefully denied by the Pentagon."
In recent days, officials in Washington had not ruled out airstrikes against Iraq, another surreal reminder that the United States was considering taking action that its arch-foe Syria just carried out hours ago. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is currently in Kurdistan begging the Kurds to consider joining a unity government in Iraq, walked back those comments, insisting that U.S. airstrikes would be "act of irresponsibility" given the power vacuum in Iraq.
“There’s no government, there’s no backup, there’s no military, there’s nothing there that provides the capacity for success,” he told reporters.
Elsewhere, the first 90 of the 300 Special Forces troops ordered to Iraq by President Obama have arrived in Baghdad, where they will assess how the Iraqi army forces loyal to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki can strengthen its defenses against the ISIS offensive. The New York Times reports that Iran is also sending help to al-Maliki, though American officials insist that the efforts are not coordinated.