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Iraqi Leader Says Would 'Welcome' Russian Air Strikes In Iraq

Iraq's prime minister says that he would "welcome" air strikes by Russia in his country if Moscow made such a proposal, but that hasn't happened yet.

Haidar al-Abadi told France 24 television in an interview made available October 1: "If we get the offer, we [will] consider it. In actual fact, I would welcome it." Abadi noted that he has been in contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said October 1 that Russia has no plans to extend air strikes to Iraq, but would do so if Iraq invited it.

Abadi said he would be "amazed" if Russian planes now carrying out air strikes in Syria were going after Syrian opposition rebels rather than the Islamic State group.

He said it's in Russia's interest to go after IS because "more than 2,000" IS fighters are Russians, making them a "national threat" that would "cause havoc" were they to return to Russia.

Abadi said Washington and Moscow should stop sparring over Syria and find a way to work together.

"Our aim is to bring everybody to fight Daesh [Islamic State], not to fight among themselves," he said.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

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