All playing defense against ISIS…..
Russian, Syrian and Iranian military commanders have set up a coordination cell in Baghdad in recent days to try to begin working with Iranian-backed Shia militias fighting the Islamic State, Fox News has learned.
Western intelligence sources say the coordination cell includes low-level Russian generals. U.S. officials say it is not clear whether the Iraqi government is involved at the moment.
Describing the arrival of Russian military personnel in Baghdad, one senior U.S. official said, “They are popping up everywhere.”
The Russians already have been building up their military presence in Syria, a subject expected to factor prominently in a planned meeting between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin in New York Monday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
While the U.S. also is fighting the Islamic State, the Obama administration has voiced concern that Russia’s involvement, at least in Syria, could have a destabilizing effect.
Moscow, though, has fostered ties with the governments in both Syria and Iraq. In May, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi flew to Moscow for an official visit to discuss potential Russian arms transfers and shared intelligence capability, as well as the enhancement of security and military capabilities, according to a statement by the Iraqi prime minister’s office at the time.