Iraq’s ruling alliance and powerful Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) have urged Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to request Russian air strikes on the Takfiri group, ISIL (so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant), a report said on Wednesday.
Reuters news agency quoted two members of parliament as saying that the prime minister was under “tremendous pressure” from the ruling National Alliance to request Russian intervention.
MPs and alliance members said an official request for Russian air strikes was relayed to Abadi last week 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 and could have undesired consequences even on long-term future relations with America,” said a senior Shi’ite politician close to Abadi.
Abadi’s spokesman said he has not discussed air strikes with Russia. At the same time he was “not ruling out any side that could provide support to Iraq,” Saad al-Hadithi said.
Reuters noted that the growing pressure on Abadi to seek Russian support puts him in the delicate position of trying to appease his ruling coalition, as well as PMF (known as Hashed al-Shabi), while keeping strategic ally Washington on his side.
Earlier on Tuesday, America’s top general, Joseph Dunford, said on a trip to Baghdad that the United States won assurances from Iraq that it would not seek such strikes.
Dunford, on his first visit to Iraq since becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Oct. 1, said Abadi and Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi both told him they were not seeking Russia’s help.
The United States is leading a 60-plus member coalition allegedly targeting ISIL Takfiri group (so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant) in Iraq and Syria and has been carrying out frequent raids for more than a year.
The strikes have failed to turn the tide in the war against the Takfiri militants who have declared a caliphate and want to redraw the map of the Middle East.
Meanwhile, and under the request of the Syrian government, Russia also is launching an air campaign against ISIL and other terrorists.