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    Iraq's Anti-ISIL Intelligence Alliance Has Pentagon Officials Worried

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    Iraq's decision to sign an intelligence-sharing accord with Syria, Iran and Russia has US Defense Department officials worried about what intelligence the Iraq government is going to share with its allies against terror, and the information it may contain regarding the US armed forces.

    Surprised US defense officials are concerned about the decision by Iraq's Joint Operations Command to share intelligence with Syria, Iran and Russia in an effort to coordinate action against the Islamic State.

    "We were caught by surprise that Iraq entered into this agreement with Syria, Iran and Russia. Obviously, we are not going to share intelligence with either Syria, or Russia, or Iran," Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.

    "So we are in the process of working to try and find out exactly what Iraq has said," said Work, explaining that the US is not willing to share intelligence that would aid Iran, Syria and Russia, despite their clear desire to fight the threat of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.

    "Certainly we are not going to provide any classified information that would help those actors on the battlefield," said Work, responding to a question from Republican Senator Joni Ernst.

    Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was asked by Senator Ernst about the implications of the information sharing agreement, and also "the broader implications of Russia emerging as a leader in the Middle East while we seem to be frittering away our opportunity with ISIL."

    In response, Clapper sought to cynically portray the reason behind Russia's military assistance to embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad as a move to "prop up" Assad's government, in spite of Russia's oft-and long-stated commitment to fighting terrorism, and the bulwark Assad provides against the Islamic State's advance. 

    "They want to prop up Assad and, I think, a belated motivation for them is fighting ISIL," Clapper told the hearing.

    Clapper said that in the forum of the hearing, he couldn't go into detail about what Iraq's new agreement entails for US intelligence, but expressed skepticism about the united front to boost intelligence capabilities against terrorism.

    "Each of the parties entering into this are a little bit suspicious of just what is entailed here. We will have to see how robust a capability that actually provides," said the US intelligence chief. 

    Senator Ernst concluded the hearing by telling those present, "I am very concerned that we have abdicated our role in the Middle East as, and in so many other areas, as has been pointed out earlier." 

    "This is of grave concern to all of us, and I think we need to be working much more diligently on this."

    On Monday Russian President Vladimir Putin set out Russia's motivation for providing military and technological assistance to Iraq, Syria and other countries of the region in their fight against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in his address to the UN General Assembly.

    "We believe it a huge mistake to refuse cooperation with the Syrian authorities, the government army, with those who are bravely fighting terror. It is necessary to finally acknowledge, that apart from the army of President Assad and the Kurdish militia in Syria, nobody is actually fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist groups."

    "We know all the problems of the region, all the contradictions, but after all it is necessary to begin from reality," said President Putin.

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    Tags:
    Daesh, Pentagon, Iran, Syria, Iraq, United States, Russia
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