Iraq and Russia discussed prospects for deepening military coordination, Iraqi Defense Ministry said Thursday, amid a strain in Baghdad-Washington relations after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian general inside Iraq.
The ministry statement followed a meeting in Baghdad between Iraqi army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Othman Al-Ghanimi and Iraq's Russian Ambassador Maksim Maksimov, as well as a newly arrived defense attache.
The meeting comes during an uncertain moment in the future of Iraq-U.S. military relations, following the Jan. 3 U .S. drone strike that killed Iran's most powerful military commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and Iraqi senior militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis near Baghdad airport. The attack continues to create friction, prompting powerful Shiite parties to call for an overhaul of the existing strategic set-up between Iraq and the U.S.-led coalition.
Al-Ghanimi praised Moscow's role in the battle against the Islamic State group, saying they had provided "our armed forces with advanced and effective equipment and weapons that had a major role in resolving many battles," according to the ministry statement.