IRAQ to share ISIL Intelligence

Iraq's military said Sunday it will begin sharing "security and intelligence" information with Syria, Russia and Iran to help combat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, a move that could further complicate U.S. efforts to battle the extremists without working with Damascus and its allies.

The Joint Operations Command said in a statement the countries will "help and cooperate in collecting information about the terrorist Daesh group," using the Arabic acronym for ISIL.

Iraq has long had close ties with neighboring Iran and has coordinated with Tehran in fighting ISIL — which controls about a third of Iraq and Syria in a self-declared caliphate. Iran has sent military advisers to Iraq and worked closely with Shiite militias battling ISIL.

A U.S.-led coalition has meanwhile been conducting airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria as well as training and advising Iraqi forces, but U.S. officials insist they are not coordinating their efforts with Iran.

The U.S. also refuses to cooperate with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russia and Iran have provided critical support to Assad since Syria's uprising began in 2011.

The Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S.-led campaign against ISIL, Col. Steve Warren, said the U.S. remains committed to working with Iraq to defeat the extremists.

Associated Press