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MOSCOW, October 5. /TASS/. The logic of events in the Middle East as it is, it should not be ruled out that the anti-terrorist operation involving Russia against the Islamic State may spread from Syria to Iraq, polled experts have told TASS.
Iraqi Prime Minister Heidar al-Abadi said on Saturday he would have nothing against if Russia’s air and space forces dealt strikes against positions of the terrorist organization Islamic State in the Iraqi territory. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday that Moscow had not yet received an official notification on that score.
One of Russia’s leading specialists on oriental affairs, Georgy Mirsky, believes that successful strikes by Russian aircraft against the Islamic State’s command posts and weapons depots are already driving the militants out of Syria into the territory of neighboring Iraq. "It is from Iraq that the terrorists had come to Syria. Their 'family nest' is there. When President Vladimir Putin says that Islamic State terrorists must be eliminated 'there', away from Russia, the word 'there' means both Syria and Iraq. It is still the very same war. Under pressure from Russia’s air strikes and the Syrian army’s offensive on the ground the Islamic State militants are gathering in Iraq, where they should be finished off. That’s a question of time," Mirsky told TASS. "I do not rule out that Baghdad may follow in Damascus’s footsteps to ask Moscow to attack IS targets inside Iraq."
Mirsky believes that the Russian leadership’s hypothetical consent to an air operation in Iraq will depend on how far Moscow’s aims reach. "If the point at issue is preserving Syrian statehood on 20% of Syria’s territory under the control of Bashar Assad’s army, then any expansion of Russia’s air operation against militants’ positions in Iraq may prove unnecessary. But if the ultimate goal is to wipe the Islamic State from the face of the earth, then its citadels in Iraq will have to be bombed," Mirsky warns.
The president of the Middle East Institute, Yevgeny Satanovsky, is articulate, as usual. "If the real purpose of Russia and its allies in the anti-terrorist coalition (Syria, Iraq and Iran) is to suppress the Islamic State, then they should fight to the bitter end and to bomb the militants not only in Syria, but also in Iraq. It is not accidental that the allies’ coordination center is in Baghdad. But if someone has the wish to preserve a handful of terrorists just in case, then there will be no operation against the Islamic State in Iraq. In this war the question is to be decided by those who have the power," he told TASS.
A member of the presidential Council for Interaction with Religious Organizations, Alexander Ignatenko, agrees with Satanovsky and Mirsky. "If Russia receives Iraq’s request to deal air strikes against Islamic State militants, it should respond in the same way it responded to the request from Syria’s President Bashar Assad," Ignatenko told TASS.
According to the analyst, since the moment Russia’s air operation against the Islamic State in Syria began thousands of militants have migrated to neighbouring Jordan and Iraq. "This is precisely what happened when the United States attacked terrorists’ positions in Iraq. They moved to Syria. The logic of military tactics implies the enemy must be attacked wherever it may be hiding," Ignatenko said.
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