Iraq hints it would accept Russian support in ISIS fight

Iraq will 'think twice' before refusing anti-ISIS support
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Iraq will 'think twice' before refusing anti-ISIS support 01:24

Story highlights

  • Iraq's U.S. envoy says Iraqi needs are paramount
  • He says Baghdad will "certainly think twice" before refusing support to fight ISIS
  • Diplomat calls U.S. and coalition primary partners cites a "higher sense of urgency"

(CNN)Russia "can complement the fight we have against ISIS," Iraq's ambassador to the United States says.

"To us, the United States and the coalition are the primary partners," the envoy, Lukman Faily, told CNN on Thursday. But "if support is provided from others, we will certainly think twice before saying no."
"Russia, other countries, have their own threat in relation to ISIS, and they also have a stake. We would like and seek support from all to cleanse our country from ISIS.
    "Iraqi needs (are) paramount for us."
    Faily emphasized that Baghdad is not looking elsewhere but said it would "seriously consider" offers of support.
    "We think that overall there has to be a higher sense of urgency because of the situation in Iraq, and because we cannot co-exist one extra day with ISIS," he said.
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    Watch the full interview 07:07
    A leading Shiite politician in Iraq told Reuters this week that the country may soon be forced to ask Russia for airstrikes.
    Responding to that report, Faily said that there had not been a "detailed discussion" of a Russian intervention.
    A U.S.-led coalition has been carrying out an aerial bombing campaign against ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria since last year. But Russia is upping its presence in the region, including carrying out airstrikes in Syria. Russia insists it is striking ISIS and other terrorists there, but observers suspect Moscow is actually targeting Syrian rebels opposed to Bashar al-Assad's regime.
    Two weeks ago, Iraq agreed with Russia, Syria and Iran to enter into an intelligence-sharing agreement to battle ISIS.
    Faily, sitting in Washington, seemed to downplay that agreement, saying he was aware of the American politics and "global geopolitics."
    "We are putting various firewalls in place to make sure that the intelligence is at (a) low level and anything comes into Iraq and doesn't go out. We are very cautious and very careful as to what sharing we can do with others," he said.
    "Atrocities should no longer be tolerated. Support should be provided by all. And whomever is providing that support, we will seriously consider that."