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Iraq mulls deepening military ties with Russia

The meeting comes during an uncertain moment in the future of Iraq-US military relations [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2020

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Iraq and Russia consider prospects for deepening military coordination following a meeting between Moscow and Baghdad officials, a defence ministry statement said on Thursday.
Iraq and Russia have discussed possible deepening military coordination, Iraq's defence ministry said on Thursday, amid a strain in Baghdad-Washington relations after a US airstrike killed a top Iranian general inside Iraq.

The announcement came after a meeting in Baghdad between Iraqi army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Othman Al-Ghanimi and Russian Ambassador Maksim Maksimov, as well as a newly arrived defence attache.

Al-Ghanimi praised Moscow's role in the battle against the Islamic State group, saying they had provided "our armed forces with advanced and effective equipment and weapons that had a major role in resolving many battles", according to the ministry statement.

The statement said the sides discussed prospects for "cooperation and coordination".

Both parties emphasised the importance of exchanging information and coordination to prevent the resurgence of IS.

Maksimov extended an invitation to al-Ghanimi to visit Russia and meet with his counterpart "within the framework of strengthening cooperation between the two sides", the statement said.

Read also: How Putin stands to gain, a month after Soleimani's assassination

The meeting comes during an uncertain moment in the future of Iraq-US military relations, following the 3 January US drone strike that killed Iran's most powerful military commander, General Qasem Soleimani, and Iraqi senior militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis near Baghdad airport.

The attack prompted powerful Shia parties to call for an overhaul of the existing strategic set-up between Iraq and the US-led coalition.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow.

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