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Tehran Convinced US-Led Coalition's Air War Against ISIL Just 'A Bluff'

© AP Photo / Senior Airman Matthew Bruch, US Air ForceAnti-ISIL airstrikes
Anti-ISIL airstrikes - Sputnik International
A scandal is brewing between the US and its Gulf allies over the latter's decision to shift their forces away from the air campaign against ISIL to focus on bombing the Houthis in Yemen instead. Sputnik asked Iranian journalist Hassan Shemshadi to comment on Iran's assessment of the effectiveness of the US-led anti-ISIL efforts up to this point.

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On Saturday, The New York Times published a piece in which the author lamented that as Washington prepares to intensify its airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria, "the Arab allies who with great fanfare sent warplanes on the initial missions there a year ago have largely vanished from the campaign."

Heralded by the Obama administration for their role, "flying side by side with American fighter jets in the campaign's early days as an important show of solidarity against the Islamic State," these allies, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan, have since "shifted most of their aircraft" to fight the fledgling Houthi government which took power in Yemen last September.

Speaking with Sputnik, Middle East expert and former special correspondent for Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Hassan Shemshadi commented on the Arab states' shifting priorities, and on Tehran's assessment of the overall effectiveness of the US-led air war against ISIL. He explained that up to this point, Iran does not think very highly of the campaign's effectiveness.

"A year-and-a-half has now passed since the formation of the so-called international coalition among Western and Arab countries to combat Islamic State terrorism, the expert noted. "From the very beginning, Iran had its doubts on the reliability and effectiveness of the coalition in its fight against ISIL militants. Since then, it has become abundantly clear that the coalition's actions are only a bluff, and the evidence exists to prove it."

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"In the first place," Shemshadi noted, "the forces of this coalition provided ISIL militants with various kinds of assistance, providing rations, weapons, and medical supplies. Every time, the coalition's commanders claimed that these were just mistakes, and that the cargo was actually meant for the Iraqi army or the moderate Syrian opposition. There is an obvious discrepancy here between their statements and their actions."

"There is also other evidence," the journalist explained. "Ahead of the battle for Kobani, the coalition's intelligence received information on the exact coordinates of the movements of ISIL tank columns. However, the airstrikes carried out against the terrorists never did end up taking this data into account. The diversionary bombing campaign ended up being carried out randomly and aimlessly in the desert. Then the coalition declared that it had struck ISIL positions."

Shemshadi told Sputnik that "further proof can be found in a recent report of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran. In this document, Ali Shamkhani, the former Air Force commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, reported that witness and military testimony had shown that the coalition had at its disposal complete visibility of the area, and could destroy a minimum of 120 ISIL military positions. However, only 12 bases were ultimately destroyed. The Iranian government even has reliable intelligence data showing that coalition aircraft flying over their targets have received orders not to hit ISIL positions."

"All of this confirms," according to the journalist, "that the mission of the Western-Arab anti-ISIL coalition has been and remains a bluff. Today, when the coalition's Arab allies have announced their intention to reduce their military involvement in the airstrikes in Syria, this is evidence, first and foremost, of the effectiveness of the Russian Aerospace Forces' efforts to eliminate the terrorists, after only a month-and-a-half of efforts."

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