The U.S. has told Iraq’s leaders they must choose between ongoing American support in the battle against militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and asking the Russians to intervene instead.
US threatens to stop helping Iraq against ISIL if Baghdad asks Russia for help. The terrorists must be rejoicing pic.twitter.com/aKDaf1ae7q
— Alexander Yakovenko (@Amb_Yakovenko) October 21, 2015
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday that the Iraqis had promised they would not request any Russian airstrikes or support for the fight against ISIS.
Shortly after leaving Baghdad, Dunford told reporters traveling with him that he had laid out a choice when he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi earlier Tuesday.
“I said it would make it very difficult for us to be able to provide the kind of support you need if the Russians were here conducting operations as well,” Dunford said. “We can’t conduct operations if the Russians were operating in Iraq right now.”
He said there was “angst” in the U.S. when reports surfaced that al-Abadi had said he would welcome Russian airstrikes in Iraq. The U.S., Dunford said, “can’t have a relationship right now with Russia in the context of Iraq.”