US ready to work with Iran on Iraq, says air strikes an option

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Jun 17, 2014 01:06 IST
  • This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) taking aim at captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. (AP Photo via militant website)

    Militants massacre Iraq soldiers

    This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al...

  • An image uploaded on June 14 on the jehadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) riding in a captured vehicle left behind by Iraqi security forces at an unknown location in the Salaheddin province. A major offensive spearheaded by ISIL but also involving supporters of executed dictator Saddam Hussein has overrun all of one province and chunks of three others since it was launched on June 9. AFP Photo/HO/Welayat Salahuddin

    Militants massacre Iraq soldiers

    An image uploaded on June 14 on the jehadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) riding in a captured...

  • This image appears to show ISIS militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers. Foreign fighters from dozens of nations are pouring into the West Asia to join the Sunni militants. (AP/PTI Photo)

    Militants massacre Iraq soldiers

    This image appears to show ISIS militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers. Foreign fighters from dozens of nations are pouring into the West Asia to join the Sunni...

  • This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes to an open field moments before shooting them in Tikrit, Iraq. (AP Photo via militant website)

    Militants massacre Iraq soldiers

    This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al...

  • An Iraqi soldier waves as trucks carrying volunteers to fight alongside the Iraqi security forces against Jihadist militants leave a recruitment center on June 15, 2014 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Faced with a militant offensive sweeping south toward Baghdad, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced the Iraqi government would arm and equip civilians who volunteer to fight, and thousands have signed up. AFP Photo

    Militants massacre Iraq soldiers

    An Iraqi soldier waves as trucks carrying volunteers to fight alongside the Iraqi security forces against Jihadist militants leave a recruitment center on June 15, 2014...

  • This image posted on a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show Islamic State militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. (AP Photo via militant website)

    Militants massacre Iraq soldiers

    This image posted on a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show Islamic State militants leading away captured...

  • Iraqi volunteers to fight alongside the Iraqi security forces against Jihadist militants, flah the sign of victory as they leave a recruitment center aboard military trucks on June 15, 2014 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Faced with a militant offensive sweeping south toward Baghdad, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced the Iraqi government would arm and equip civilians who volunteer to fight, and thousands have signed up. AFP Photo

    Militants massacre Iraq soldiers

    Iraqi volunteers to fight alongside the Iraqi security forces against Jihadist militants, flah the sign of victory as they leave a recruitment center aboard military...

The United States said it could launch air strikes, acting with arch-enemy Iran to support the Iraqi government following a rampage by Sunni Islamist insurgents across Iraq.

US secretary of state John Kerry said on Monday that drone strikes were an option to combat the offensive, after President Barack Obama said he was weighing “all options” on how to support the Nouri al-Maliki government.

Last week, the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) captured Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and Tikrit, plunging Iraq into its worst crisis since the US withdrew troops in 2011.

Drones might not be the “whole answer,” Kerry said, “but they may well be an option important to stem the tide and stop the movement of people moving around in open convoys and trucks and terrorising people.”

Asked if the US was willing to cooperate with Iran militarily, Kerry said, “We are open to any constructive process”. The Pentagon, however, ruled out “joint military operations” with the Iranian armed forces.

The two countries have a bitter history, going back to the storming of the US embassy in Teheran in 1979 but have engaged recently over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani indicated last week he was willing to work with the US. “If we see America confronting terrorist groups in Iraq or elsewhere”, Iran will step in and work with Washington to help Iraqi Shiite troops, Rouhani said.

(With agency inputs)

Read:West evacuates staff, US-Iran talks broached

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