11:45 GMT24 September 2020
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    The US media is alarmed that Moscow has gained yet another tool to strengthen its positions in Syria – a "rival coalition", which includes Iran, Syria, and, what came as a surprise to the US – its perceived ally Iraq; which will not only allow Moscow to support President Assad, but also to influence the choice of his successor when the time comes.

    "For the second time this month, Russia moved to expand its political and military influence in the Syria conflict and left the United States scrambling, this time by reaching an understanding, announced on Sunday, with Iraq, Syria and Iran to share intelligence about the Islamic State," The New York Times reported.

    The comment comes after the announcement on Sunday of a newly-inked intelligence-sharing agreement between Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq; the US wasn't invited in on the deal.

    "American officials knew that a group of Russian military officers were in Baghdad, but they were clearly surprised when the Iraqi military’s Joint Operations Command announced the intelligence sharing accord on Sunday," the newspaper says.

    “It was another sign that President Vladimir Putin of Russia was moving ahead with a sharply different tack from that of the Obama administration in battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, by assembling a rival coalition that includes Iran and the Syrian government.”

    “The effort, which Mr. Putin is expected to underscore in his speech at the United Nations on Monday, not only puts Moscow in a position to give military support to Mr. Assad, its longtime ally in the Middle East, but could also enable the Kremlin to influence the choice of a successor if Mr. Assad were to eventually leave power,” it added.

    Russia’s moves are raising difficult questions for the Obama administration, which remains deeply conflicted about American military involvement in the Syria conflict, the outlet stated.

    Related:

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    60 Minutes of Putin: There Can Be No Democracy Without Observing the Law
    60 Minutes of Putin: Assad Combats Terrorism, US-Backed Fighters Join ISIL
    Tags:
    Daesh, alternative, coalition, intelligence, agreement, Iran, Syria, Iraq, United States, Russia, Damascus
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