Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric has called on the global community to join forces to counter the Islamic State, saying the terrorist group targets all humanity, its culture and morals with its dark ideology.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is a highly respected leader with a huge following and can often influence government thinking, was speaking through an aide after nationally televised Friday prayers, according to Reuters.
His statement comes after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Jawad Kadhim Al-Abadi said he would welcome Russian air strikes against ISIS positions in Iraq.
"Battle with Daesh [Arabic acronym for ISIS] is destined for all Iraqis," said Sistani. "But it's not their battle alone but the whole world, because terrorists target with their dark ideology all humanity, its culture and morals."
"It's essential to join together all efforts and expand the parameters of countering this movement," he added. Since last year, countries like the United States, Russia and France have led air strikes against the ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Recently, French warplanes bombed ISIS targets in Syria for the first time as part of the US-led coalition.
Russian air strikes reportedly targeted groups fighting the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. ISIS is just one of these groups fighting the Assad regime.
Baghdad has repeatedly called for coalition forces' engagement and air support for Iraqi troops trying to regain territory against the ultra-hardline Sunni group, said Reuters.
Abadi has told a media conference that his government would welcome Russian air strikes against ISIS in Iraq.
He said he has been receiving information from both Syria and Russia on ISIS. "No not yet,'' Abadi said in response to a media inquiry asking whether he had discussed airstrikes with Russia in his country.
However, he said, "It is a possibility. If we get the offer we will consider it and I would welcome it," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Moscow was not planning to expand its airstrikes to Iraq, said Reuters.
Iraq's military joint operations command also reportedly said that its officials were cooperating on intelligence and security in Baghdad with Russia, Iran and Syria to counter the threat from ISIS.
by Shianee Mamanglu-Regala