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    An Iraqi woman walks her national flag during a celebration marking the the departure of US troops from Iraq in Baghdad's Adhamiyah neighbourhood. File photo

    Iraqi Foreign Minister Thanks Russia for Help in Fighting Daesh Terrorists

    © AFP 2019 / Ahmad Al-Rubaye
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim on Wednesday thanked Russia for its assistance in battling the Daesh terrorist group at a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

    "I would like to… express my gratitude to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the help we received in the fight against Daesh*. Russia played a central role in it", Alhakim said.

    Speaking ahead of the meeting, the Iraqi minister said he was happy to be in Moscow where he planned to discuss a wide range of matters, from bilateral cooperation to regional issues.

    "We would like to discuss important issues, first of all, Russia's role in Iraq and our trade and economic turnover, and of course the role of Russia in Syria and other regions," he added.

    READ MORE: Daesh Not Defeated, US Commanders Reportedly Warned Trump Ahead of Syria Pullout

    Lavrov noted significant progress in efforts to re-establish security in Iraq and promised Russia's continued help in eliminating the last pockets of Daesh insurgency, also expressing hope that the US would not be used by Washington for other objectives than defeating terrorists in the region.

    "We certainly expect that the US military presence in Iraq will meet its stated goals, namely, to fight terrorism and help the government of Iraq to stabilize the situation, and not to somehow solve the geopolitical tasks in the region that are unilaterally pursued by the US. I have no doubt that it is from this understanding that the Iraqi leadership proceeds”, the Russian minister said.

    Backing Syria's Return to Arab League

    The Iraqi government supports bringing Syria back to the Arab League, the foreign minister of Iraq added.

    "We also discussed with the minister the question that the government of Iraq supports the need to restore Syria to the League of Arab States", Alhakim said.

    He noted there was an in-depth discussion of how to end the eight-year war in Syria and defeat terrorists, "stressing that it must be done in Syria the same way it was done in Iraq".

    READ MORE: Trump: US to Leave Syria 'At Proper Pace' While Continuing to Fight Daesh

    "We support the independence and the need to stabilize Syria on the basis of relevant international decisions, primarily, UN Security Council Resolution 2254… We stressed the need to preserve the unity of Syria, maintain its stability, restore sovereignty over all territories, and expressed support for Syria to have a united government in Damascus", Alhakim said.

    The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in 2011 after the war in the country broke out. Member states then recalled their ambassadors from the country. However, the Arab countries are now taking steps to re-establish diplomatic ties with Damascus.

    On Possibility of Military Op in Syria

    According to Alhakim, Baghdad has no plans to conduct any military operations in Syria without coordinating them with Damascus

    "Of course, we support military and security cooperation with the Syrian Arab Republic. We conduct limited air and land operations in coordination with Syria. We do not plan to introduce our forces on the territory to the east of the Euphrates, but we will certainly continue to work to destroy the remains of Daesh both from the air and on land. But I want to repeat once again that we will not conduct land or other operations unexpectedly for our Syrian partners", he stated.

    In mid-December, US President Donald Trump declared victory over Daesh and announced a subsequent withdrawal of all American troops from Syria. The terrorists, however, are still holding some territories in the region.

    * Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia

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    Tags:
    Daesh, League of Arab States, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Sergei Lavrov, Syria, Iraq, Russia
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