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US Seeks ‘Constructive’ Response from Russia

  • Pamela Dockins

In this photo taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, Russian military support crew inspect missiles attached to their jet at an air base in Syria. at an air base Hmeimim in Syria.

In this photo taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, Russian military support crew inspect missiles attached to their jet at an air base in Syria. at an air base Hmeimim in Syria.

A State Department spokesman said the U.S. would not want to see Russia transfer its “formula” in Syria to Iraq.

Mark Toner spoke Tuesday after a Russian lawmaker said Moscow would consider expanding its airstrikes to Iraq if it received an official request from the Iraqi government.

According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said Moscow would consider the “political and military advisability” of participating in an air operation in Iraq.

Matviyenko commented while meeting with officials in Jordan Tuesday. She added that Russia had not received a request from Iraq.

Russian involvement

Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he would be willing to consider allowing Russia to carry out strikes against Islamic State targets in his country.

In an interview with France 24, Abadi said, “We were expecting the international coalition, Americans, to bring massive air power to protect our forces.

“We have not received that,” he said, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

'Constructive' role

Toner said U.S. officials would like to see Russia play a “constructive” role in fighting Islamic State targets in Syria. "To a large extent, we have not seen that, thus far," he added.

He said Russia has only “ratcheted up tensions” with its airstrikes against moderate opposition forces in Syria.

“We don’t want to see that same formula transferred to Iraq,” Toner said.

The U.S. has criticized Russia for its airstrikes in Syria, saying most of the strikes do not appear to have targeted Islamic State militants. A U.S.-led coalition has been bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria since June 2014.

U.S. officials said some of Russia’s strikes appear to have been aimed at U.S.-trained opposition fighters in Syria.

Assad's role

Russia’s stepped-up engagement in Syria and its support for the Syrian regime also puts Moscow at odds with Washington over the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S. has called for a political transition in Syria that does not include Assad.

Last week, U.S. and Russian officials launched “deconfliction” talks in a bid to avoid accidental military confrontations in Syria.

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