Iraq may request Russian airstrikes against ISIS on its soil soon and the country wants Moscow to have a bigger role than the United States in the war against the militant group, the head of parliament’s defense and security committee said on Wednesday.
“We might be forced to ask Russia to launch airstrikes in Iraq soon,” Hakim al-Zamili told Reuters.
“I think the upcoming few days or weeks Iraq will be forced to ask Russia to launch air strikes and that depends on their success in Syria.”
Iraq’s government and Iranian-backed Shiite militias question the United States’ resolve in fighting ISIS militants, who control a third of the country. They say U.S.-led coalition airstrikes are ineffective.
Russian airstrikes against the government’s opponents in Syria have raised hopes in Baghdad that Russia could become an effective partner against the ultra-hardline group.
“We are seeking to see Russia have a bigger role in Iraq. … Yes, definitely a bigger role than the Americans,” Zamili said.
Russia’s intervention in the Middle East, including a new security and intelligence-sharing agreement with Iran, Iraq and Syria, has raised concerns in Washington that its former Cold War enemy is gaining clout in the oil-producing region.