Iraqi army helicopters have hit a jihadist convoy in eastern Syria, killing at least eight.
The strike is the first inside Syria claimed by Iraq since the three-year uprising against President Bashar al-Assad erupted in March 2011.
The conflict has spilled across the border, contributing to a dramatic rise of violence in Iraq since the country’s 2006-2008 sectarian war.
Meanwhile, Iraqis living overseas have began voting ahead of Wednesday’s general election that will see Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki seeking a third term despite worsening sectarian tensions, rampant corruption and high unemployment.
“The army struck eight tanker trucks in Wadi Suwab inside Syrian territory as they were trying to enter Iraqi territory to provide the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with fuel,” interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan said on Sunday.
Sunni radicals ISIL emerged in Iraq in the wake of the US-led invasion in 2003, and later expanded into Syria during the uprising against Assad.
Maan said “there was no co-ordination with the Syrian regime” over the strike.
“Our responsibility now is to protect our border and to protect the border from the other side, because there is no protection from the other side.”
The targeted vehicles were apparently travelling to the western Iraqi border province of Anbar, where ISIL has been battling Iraqi security forces.
Fighters from ISIL and other militants control the city of Fallujah in Anbar, just a short drive from Baghdad, and security officials are worried they are seeking to encroach on the capital.
Illustrating those concerns, ISIL on Friday set off twin bombings against a Shi’ite political rally, killing 36 people.
The latest show of force by the government security forces came as voting opened for Iraqis living in 29 countries overseas, including substantial contingents in Britain, Sweden, Jordan, Iran and Germany.
Maliki, lambasted by critics for allegedly consolidating power and targeting minority groups, is bidding for a third term and with a fractious and divided opposition, he remains the frontrunner, analysts and diplomats say.