US says Iraq not to seek Russian air strikes against ISIS

United States receives guarantee from Iraq that it will not call for Russian air strikes against ISIS targets

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

In this photo provided by the Pentagon, US Ambassador to Iraq, Stuart E. Jones and US Army Lt. Gen. Sean McFarland, left, greet Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. upon his arrival at Erbil, Iraq, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2015.

Iraq gave a guarantee to the United States on Tuesday that it would not ask for any Russian air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said.

The top US general also warned Iraqi authorities against allowing a Russian air entry in Iraq saying it would hinder the US led campaign mission against ISIS.

The United States has been bombing ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq for more than a year.

Following Russian intervention in Syria with the initial claim of bombing ISIS targets, Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al Abadi had announced on Oct. 1, that Iraq would welcome Russian air strikes against ISIS .

General Joseph Dunford declared Abadi and Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al Obeidi told him they were not asking for Russian backing.

"I said it would make it very difficult for us to be able to provide the kind of support that you need if the Russians were here conducting operations as well," Dunford told reporters.

He added, "Both the minister of defense and the prime minister said: 'Absolutely.' There is no request right now for the Russians to support them, there's no consideration for the Russians to support them, and the Russians haven't asked them to come in and conduct operations."

A senior Iraqi parliamentary official stated last week that Baghdad had already launched air attacks on ISIS targets with the backing of a new intelligence headquarters in Baghdad.

US and Russia sign memorandum

The Pentagon announced on Tuesday that the US has signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia, to avoid incidents in Syrian skies.

The deal includes specific protocols which both Russian and American pilots must follow in order to avoid incidents during air strikes, which both countries are conducting separately.

In addition, the deal also provides for creating links on the ground to provide communications for both sides in case there is no air communication.

Dunford said that with the deal the US-led coalition would help to continue with its role in the region.

Russia began its bombing campaign on the side of Syria's Assad regime on Sept. 30, targeting mostly Syrian opposition-held territories.

The focus of Russian strikes on non-ISIS targets has strongly been protested by Turkey, the US, and the NATO alliance.

Russian air strikes targeted a building on Friday located in the outskirts of Homs, in which a whole family had sought shelter, leading to the death of 48 civilians from the family.

Russian air strikes also killed 45 civilians and wounded dozens on Tuesday in the northwestern Syrian province of Latakia.

The Russian air strikes have mainly targeted the Army of Conquest which is an anti-Assad alliance that includes US-supported militant groups.

Bashar al Assad’s Syrian regime forces have reportedly advanced in the governorates of Hama and Latakia against opposition fighters in coordination with continuing Russian air strikes, gaining ground recently in several strategic areas.

TRTWorld and agencies