Published: 07/11/2008 JTA
Israel is using Iraqi air space and U.S. bases in Iraq to prepare for a strike against Iran, according to an Iraqi news report.
The report, which was cited by Iranian media, quoted sources in the Iraqi defense ministry.
The sources reportedly said that using U.S. bases in Iraq would enable Israeli planes to reach Iranian targets within minutes.
Iraq: Israeli jets using US bases, says ministry source
Baghdad, 11 July (AKI) -
Israeli Air Force jets have been flying over Jordanian airspace and landing in Iraq for over a month, according to reports quoting Iraqi government sources.
Iran's state-funded Press TV also reported the claim, immediately fuelling speculation about a potential strike by Israel against Iran's nuclear facilities.
According to Press TV, the Iraqi Ministry of Defence told Iraqi news network, Nahrainnet, that suspected Israeli warplanes had landed at the al-Assad American airbase near Haditha, in western Anbar province, as well as a base in Nassiriya in the country's south.
Iran's Press TV also reported that the US had boosted security arrangements around the bases allegedly used by Israel.
According to retired Iraqi army officials, fighter jets have been entering Iraqi airspace from Jordan.
Jordan and Israel signed a peace agreement in 1994.
Sources also claimed that if Israeli warplanes were to carry out an attack against Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr, it would take them five minutes to reach it from Iraq.
In June, 100 Israeli warplanes carried out a drill over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece, as a rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran.
During that exercise, Israeli Air Force helicopters and refuelling aircraft reportedly flew around 1,500 kilometres from Israel - roughly the distance between Israel and Iran's primary uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.
On Thursday, Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak said that his country was ready to act against Iran if threatened.
"Israel is the strongest country in the region and has proved in the past that it won't hesitate to act when its vital security interests are at stake," said Barak speaking in Tel Aviv on Thursday.