MOSCOW, August 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone conversation on Saturday expressed concerns over sharp ratcheting up of tensions in Iraq and voiced their support to the country’s authorities in their fight against rebels from the Sunni militant group Islamic State, Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“The top diplomats expressed concerns over sharp ratcheting up of tensions in Iraq, voicing their support to Iraqi authorities in their fight against rebels from the terrorist group Islamic State. In this connection, [Lavrov, Kerry] stressed the importance of coordinated, free of double standards efforts of the international community aimed at combating terrorism,” the statement by the Foreign Ministry read.
In early June, tensions in Iraq ran high as the Sunni group Islamic State (IS) previously fighting in Syria, seized large parts of the country. Later, IS rebels were joined by Iraqi Sunnis, soldiers from Saddam Hussein's army and minor terrorist groups. In late June, the Islamic State announced the establishment of a caliphate on the territories it had captured in Iraq and Syria.
Late on Thursday, US President Barack Obama gave the green light to US airstrikes on IS targets saying that the operation was aimed at lifting the IS siege of Erbil, the capital city of Iraqi Kurdistan, where the US consulate is located and protecting the Yezidi minority group facing the “genocide.” At least three of such airstrikes were carried out on Friday.
Earlier on Saturday, President Obama said that the airstrikes had “successfully destroyed arms and equipment” of the Islamic State militants and stressed that the United States would continue humanitarian aid through airdrops to members of Iraq's Yazidi religious minority. The President though declined to give an exact timeframe both for the air campaign and humanitarian operation.