Reuters reports: Iraq’s national security adviser briefed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on efforts to counter Islamic State on Tuesday, Syrian state media reported, the first such meeting since the United States launched air strikes on the radical group in Iraq.
The United States and other Western governments have dismissed the idea of cooperating with Syria in the fight against Islamic State, which has seized large areas of Iraq and Syria. Western governments see Assad as part of the problem and say he must leave power.
But the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad, together with Iran and the Lebanese group Hezbollah, have been important allies for Assad since the uprising against his rule erupted in 2011. Shi’ite Iraqi militias have fought on Assad’s side against the insurgency spearheaded by Sunni Islamists.
The meeting between Faleh al-Fayad, the Iraqi national security adviser, and Assad indicated that the Iraqi government aims to maintain those ties. It also points to the scope for possible indirect cooperation between Syria and the West in the fight against Islamic State via third parties such as Iraq. [Continue reading…]