Coalition should strike ISIS in Syria also: Iraq PM
Abadi rejetcs any possible plans for U.S. troops in Iraq as part of anti-ISIS push
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said on Wednesday the international community must stop militants belong to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the two countries it is operating in, not just Iraq.
"The fight will go on unless ISIS is hit in Syria," he said, using an acronym for the group. "This is the responsibility of the international community – on top of them the United States government – to do something about ISIS in Syria," he told the Associated Press in an interview.
His comments come a day after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met in Damascus with Iraq’s National Security Adviser Falah al-Fayadh, who updated the embattled leader “on efforts by the Iraqi government to confront terrorism.”
"We cannot afford to fight our neighbor, even if we disagree on many things," Abadi said. "This is our neighbor. We don't want to enter into problems with them. For us sovereignty of Syria is very important."
The West has rejected calls from Damascus to cooperate in the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS, which seized large swathes of northern Iraq in June during a lightning offensive against the government of Nouri al-Maliki, Abadi’s predecessor. The militants are also operating in Syria, with main bases in the northern and eastern provinces of Raqqa and Deir al-Zor.
In his first interview with foreign media since taking office on Sept. 8, Abadi told AP that U.S. airstrikes have been helpful in the country's efforts to roll back the Sunni militant group, but stressed that putting foreign boots on the ground "is out of the question."
"Not only is it not necessary," he said, "We don’t want them. We won't allow them. Full stop."
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that American ground troops may be needed to battle ISIS forces in the Middle East if President Barack Obama’s current strategy fails, as Congress plunged into an election-year debate of Obama's plan to expand airstrikes and train Syrian rebels.
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