19 February 2020

Iraqi groups call on premier to seek Russian anti-terror airstrikes

KONFRONTASI-Iraq’s ruling coalition and volunteer forces fighting Takfiri Daesh terrorists have called on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to request Russia to launch airstrikes on the terrorists’ positions in the Arab country.

Members of the ruling National Iraqi Alliance in the parliament told Reuters on Wednesday that an official request for Russian air raids had been relayed to Abadi in a last week meeting, and that he has not officially responded.

“Abadi told the meeting parties that it wasn’t the right time to include the Russians in the fight because that would only complicate the situation with the Americans,” said a senior politician close to the premier, Reuters reported, without mentioning the politician’s name.

Abadi’s spokesman, Saad al-Hadithi, said the prime minister has not discussed airstrikes with the Kremlin, adding, however, that he was “not ruling out any side that could provide support to Iraq.”

Also on Wednesday, Muen al-Kadhimi, a senior figure of the Badr Brigade militia, fighting Daesh terrorists, said Russia has been more decisive in its air campaign against Daesh in Syria – which began late in September – than the Americans coalition purportedly targeting Daesh positions in Syria and Iraq.

“I am positive that the government will respond to pressures, especially after the official mandate of the National Alliance for Prime Minister Abadi to request Russia’s participation,” Kadhimi said.

To counter terrorist groups, Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq have recently formed a Baghdad-based intelligence-sharing center.

The Iraqi groups’ request for Russian airstrikes against Daesh comes despite remarks by General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said on Tuesday that Washington had won assurances from Iraq that it would not seek such strikes.

“Both the [Iraqi] minister of defense (Khalid al-Obeidi) and the prime minister said: ‘Absolutely.’ There is no request right now for the Russians to support them… and the Russians haven’t asked them to come in and conduct operations,” Dunford said during a trip to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Moscow launched its airstrikes against Takfiri terrorists in Syria upon a request by Damascus on September 30, shortly after the upper house of the Russian parliament gave President Vladimir Putin the mandate to use the air force in the Arab country.

Since September 2014, the US and some of its allies have been conducting airstrikes against purported Daesh extremists inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate. The airstrikes in Syria are an extension of the US-led aerial campaign against alleged Daesh positions in Iraq, which started in August 2014. Many have criticized the ineffectiveness of the coalition raids.[mr/ptv]



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