Iran has admitted targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Iraqi soil, saying it is defending its friends' interests.

Ebrahim Rahimpour, Iran's deputy foreign minister, told Britain's Guardian newspaper in an interview that the air strikes were not co-ordinated with the US, whose military is also fighting the group, which controls large parts of Iraq and Syria.

He said the attacks were carried out at the Iraqi government's request.

This was the first confirmation of the attacks by Iran. The government had previously denied that its military launched any air strikes.

The timing and nature of the military operations are not clear, but they are said to have occurred in Diyala province, which extends from northeast Baghdad to the Iranian border.

John Kerry, US secretary of state, has rejected the possibility of any co-ordination with Iran in anti-ISIL operations.

Would Iran's involvement make any difference in the fight against ISIL?

Presenter: Sami Zeidan

Guests:

Ghanbar Nader - journalist with Kayhan International, a media organisation under Iran's supreme leader.

Reza Marashi - Research Director at Washington DC-based National Iranian American Council.

Joseph Kechichian - senior columnist for Dubai's Gulf News newspaper.

Source: Al Jazeera