Iraqi Leader Suggests Bigger Role in Syria Conflict After U.S. Troops Leave: Report

Iraq may assume an expanded role in fighting Islamic State militants in Syria, the country’s prime minister suggested on Sunday, Reuters reported. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told reporters that Iraqi security officials had met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. “This issue has a lot of complications,” Abdul Mahdi reportedly said, apparently in reference to President Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw some 2,000 U.S. soldiers from Syria. “If any negative development takes place in Syria it will affect us. We have a [400 mile] border with Syria and Daesh [Islamic State] is there.” Abdul Mahdi explained that an Iraqi delegation had visited Syria on Saturday to “gain the initiative, not just deal with the consequences” of the U.S. military’s departure, Reuters said. He added that Iraq sought to do more than its current agreement with Syria, under which Iraqi forces fire air strikes against ISIS. “There are groups operating in Syria, and Iraq is the best way to deal with this,” he reportedly said.