Iraq's leader has begun a two-day visit to Russia to cement further support against "Islamic State." The terrorists' assault on Ramadi has proved a major setback to the government in Baghdad.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with Russia's PM, Dmitry Medvedev, and President Vladimir Putin on a visit to Moscow Thursday, aiming to strengthen the partnership between the two countries in the fight against the self-styled "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group.
"We are expanding cooperation in the area of military technology," said Putin ahead of the talks, promising to invest billions of dollars in Iraq alongside the military aid, though he did not elaborate.
The swift advance of IS into the city of Ramadi in central Iraq last weekend, along with its tightening grip on the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, have illustrated the weaknesses of the Iraqi army and the limitations of US-led airstrikes.
Al-Abadi said he had ignored "certain forces" telling him to cancel the trip in light of the worsening security situation, stressing the importance of his country's ties with Russia.
Before the US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003, Russian companies had been active in the Iraqi economy for decades, and last year the Kremlin delivered Mi-28 attack helicopters to the Iraqi army to help them combat the militants. Putin called Baghdad an "old and reliable partner in the region" before hailing how their countries' relations were "developing very successfully" and reaffirming the promise of future investment.
In a news conference with Medvedev, al-Abadi compared the conflict with IS to the Red Army's struggle against the Nazis 70 years ago, saying "we will be able to have victory over these new forces, similar to those that you overcame in the past."
es/msh (AFP, Reuters)