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Iraq's top security official met with embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday to brief him on Iraq and the fight against ISIS, even as American officials said that there will be no coordination with the isolated regime.
The meeting between Iraqi National Security Advisor Faleh Al-Fayad and Assad was to "put Assad in the picture of the latest developments in Iraq and the efforts that the Iraqi government and people are making to combat the terrorists," the Syrian state news agency SANA reported. It was the first meeting of an Iraqi official with Assad since President Obama's announcement that the U.S. would attack ISIS militants locations in Iraq and Syria.
The United States and other Western governments have repeatedly dismissed the idea of enlisting Syria's help in the fight against ISIS, and Obama has asked Congress for funds to further equip the "moderate" rebels who are fighting both ISIS extremists and Assad's regime. A senior security official in Iraq told NBC News that Iraq and Syria were likely already coordinating on the ISIS fight.
"This cooperation already exists, Syrian war planes attacked ISIS locations inside Iraq so many times, so they must have the Intel info from the Iraqi side," the source said. When asked about the meeting, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf responded, "I have said many times, we will not be coordinating with the Assad regime, they are not the answer to ISIS."
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