While the White House is making it clear they are opposed to Russian airstrikes against ISIS, those strikes are being met with growing statements of support from top US allies in the war. On Friday, the Syrian Kurdish faction the YPG endorsed Russia, unsurprising as they are often allies of the Assad government in fighting ISIS. Saturday, the Iraqi Kurds echoed that support.
A new statement from President Massoud Barzani of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government says that he welcomes the assistance of any country, including Russia, in the battle against ISIS, and hopes Russia will support the Peshmerga forces in their fights against ISIS.
Barzani’s statement also included a call for the US to coordinate with Russia on their fight against ISIS, something US officials have repeatedly ruled out, saying they believe the war against ISIS would be much more effective if everyone was working together. Russia offered coordination with the US ahead of their strikes, and urged the US to join a new intelligence-sharing endeavor in Baghdad, though the US refused.
Barzani’s endorsement may also reflect growing support for Russia across Iraq in general. The US and the Abadi government haven’t been on the best of terms recently, and their new coziness with Russia may be a decent bargaining chip when dealing with the US.
Though the Kurdish Peshmerga have been arguably the closest US ally throughout the war, the group has accepted aid from other groups, even those the US isn’t on good terms with. Among the first nations to provide the Peshmerga arms was Iran.