Iraq authorises Russia to strike Islamic State inside country

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Iraqi security officials have told MEE that US-led coalition strikes, which follow a stringent protocol, have been too slow, ineffective

A view of the Baiji on 20 October 2015 after Iraqi security forces, backed by the al-Hashd al-Shaabi Shia militia, retook control of the town's oil refinery from IS (AA)
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Saturday 24 October 2015 11:21 UTC
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The Iraqi government authorised Russia to target Islamic State group convoys coming from Syria, a senior Iraqi official said.

The authorisation for Russia to target IS inside Iraq comes amid security coordination between Iraq, Russia, Iran and Syria.

Hakem al-Zamli, chief of the Iraqi parliament’s security and defense committee, told Anadolu Agency on Friday that the measure contributed to weakening IS by cutting off its supply routes.

Earlier this month, Iraqi security officials told MEE that Russia would likely be invited to bomb IS within their country because the US-led coalition air strikes have proved slow and ineffective, largely because stringent protocols were followed.

"They [the US-led coalition] refuse to strike private cars, mosques, bridges, schools despite the fact Daesh militants are mainly using these places as headquarters," a senior military officer, who declined to be named, told MEE, using an Arabic acronym to refer to IS. 

The US-led rules, which enforces verification of targets, regularly give IS militants time to save their supplies, equipment and fighters, they said.

"This is an exceptional war and our enemy has no rules," one of the officers said. "How [can] you ask me to stick to the rules while my enemy is brutally killing my people every day, enslaving my sisters and destroy my towns and cities?

"Russians have no red lines, no complicated and restricted rules, so it would be easy for us to deal with them," he said.

Russia, an ally of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, began carrying out air strikes in Syria on 30 September. According to the Kremlin, the strikes are aimed at weakening the IS militant group, an avowed enemy of the regime.

Turkey and several Western countries, however, accuse Russia of targeting rebel groups in Syria opposed to Assad, many of which enjoy the support of Ankara and Washington.

Iraq has been gripped by a security vacuum since June 2014, when IS stormed the northern city of Mosul and declared a self-styled caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.