Russia Opens Door to Bombing Iraq

Russia would consider extending its campaign of airstrikes currently taking place in Syria to territories held by the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq, if the Iraqi government asked for Russia's help, an official for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told news agency RIA Novosti.

When asked about the likelihood of starting airstrikes in Iraq, Ilya Rogachev, director of the ministry's "department for new challenges and threats" did not rule out the possibility. He told journalists "either we would need to receive such a request from the government of Iraq or a [U.N.] Security Council resolution is accepted, the adoption of which is crucially dependent on the will of the Iraqi government."

"When in possession of such sufficient grounds [for air force action in Iraq], we would assess the political and military expediency," he said.

Russia issued a similar statement about providing direct military assistance to Syria last month before the Syrian government officially requested military help and Moscow began airstrikes on Wednesday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told French news broadcaster France24 on Thursday that Baghdad would be open to receiving help in the form of airstrikes from Russia.

"It is in our interest to share information with Russia. Russia has a lot of information," al-Abadi said. "The more information we gather the more I can protect the Iraqi people."

Asked if his government had officially requested airstrikes from Russia, al-Abadi said "not yet."

"It is a possibility. If we get the offer, we will consider it," he added.