Speaking today at a conference in Finland, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov confirmed his nation is supporting Iraq’s central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in their fight against ISIS, saying all involvement is being done at the request of the Iraqis.
Iraqi officials confirmed this, with Defense Committee head Hakim Zamili reporting that the newly established Baghdad information center was the source of intelligence used in recent airstrikes against ISIS, including one Iraq says hit numerous ISIS leaders.
The information center was created as a joint clearing house of ISIS intelligence, with Russia, Iraq, Iran, and Syria all participating. The United States was also invited to take part, and not only declined, but also cut back bilateral intelligence sharing with Iraq in response.
The US has been treating recent Russian involvement in the ISIS war as a competition, and Iraq seems keen to use that fact as leverage to get better terms out of US officials, who they previously complained were trying to dictate the details of the ISIS war. To the extent the US doesn’t want to be supplanted by Russia in Iraq, they will doubtless give the Iraqis concessions.