AP Interview: Iraq official appeals for more aid to fight IS

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S.-led coalition helping Iraq push back Islamic State group militants is not doing enough to match the scale of the threat, a senior Iraqi official said Monday as he called for increased firepower to defeat the extremists.

Speaking to The Associated Press on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq said the coalition "should be more serious, more effective."

"I don't think that the intervention of this coalition is serious enough compared with what we see from the strength of ISIS," he said, using an alternative name for the group.

Coalition warplanes have been pounding Islamic State group positions in both Iraq and neighboring Syria with airstrikes for months. The United States alone has flown roughly 900 combat missions over Iraq since August. Several coalition countries also have sent military advisers, weapons and other assistance to Iraq.

Al-Mutlaq said more must be done.

"We would welcome any help which does not contradict with the independence of the country, and any help which unites the society and (does) not divide the society in Iraq," he said.

Asked for specifics on what Iraq needs, he replied: "Airstrikes and weapons. ... More advanced than what Daesh has now," he added, using an Arabic acronym for the group.

Shiite powerhouse Iran, which is not part of the U.S.-led coalition, has carried out airstrikes inside Iraq too. It also is providing Iraq with weapons and military advisers, deepening its ties to its neighbor and Shiite militias there.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states, like the U.S. and Israel, are wary of Iran's influence.

Those concerned about Tehran's role in Iraq "should come and help the Iraqis in order to limit that interference," al-Mutlaq said.

Al-Mutlaq is one of the most senior figures from Iraq's Sunni minority in Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Shiite-led government. Al-Abadi last month praised the coalition's air campaign while complaining that commitments to train and equip Iraqi troops were slow to come, telling AP that "we are in this almost on our own."


Follow Adam Schreck on Twitter at www.twitter.com/adamschreck .

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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