BAGHDAD: Russia on Wednesday shot 26 long-range cruise missiles from its navy ships in the Caspian Sea across Iraqi airspace to hit both anti-government and Islamic State targets in Syria, further ramping up its fierce bombing campaign there.Already taken aback by Russian planes crossing into Turkish airspace and Moscow’s unapologetic bombing of U.S.-backed rebels fighting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, U.S. officials on Wednesday said Moscow’s strategy is misguided.
“The kind of military strategy that Russia seems to be pursuing right now is not at all likely to be successful in advancing their interests inside of Syria,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “In fact, we actually think that the strategy that Russia is now pursuing military is likely to be counterproductive.”
U.S. coalition aircraft, meanwhile, continued their 14-month campaign of bombing missions against IS targets in both Iraq and Syria.Defense officials said Washington is working to ensure that there is not “an unsafe separation between aircraft,” and called on Iraq to check its airspace.But :it’s happened,” said Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis.
“We do urge our partners, Iraq among them, to be skeptical about these things, to ask hard questions about what’s going through their air space,” said Davis.Moscow’s more forceful role in the region has further deepened the sectarian and political divides in Iraq.Baghdad’s pro-Iranian government has welcomed the current intelligence-sharing partnership.”We need to develop cooperation with these countries for the defense of Iraq and to protect our people,” said Baghdad government spokesman Saad Hadisi.One leading Shi’ite politician went even further.”In the upcoming few days or weeks, I think Iraq will be forced to ask Russia to launch air strikes, and that depends on their success in Syria,” Hakim al-Zamili told Reuters in an interview.