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Russian Intelligence Can Help Against Islamic State: Former CIA Analyst

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Russia could help the US-led coalition in its fight against the Islamic State (IS) by providing critical intelligence, a former CIA analyst told RIA Novosti.

WASHINGTON, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia could help the US-led coalition in its fight against the Islamic State (IS) by providing critical intelligence, a former CIA analyst told RIA Novosti.

"The US could use Russia on gaining intelligence about ISIS from Damascus. It's a good area for cooperation considering the relationship between Russia and Syria goes back 40 years," said Mel Goodman, a director at the Center for International Policy (CIP), who was chief of the CIA's Office of Soviet Affairs from 1976 to 1986.

Goodman mentioned that Russia could help on counterterror measures as well, by providing information about who is leaving places like Chechnya and going to Syria. In addition, according to Goodman, by leveraging Russia's relationship with Syria the coalition could be better positioned to support the air campaign against IS.

"Opening a dialogue with Syria could also help in establishing ground control. Instead we have a feckless bombing campaign without ground support," said Goodman.

General John Allen outlined the US strategy during a press briefing on Wednesday, which consists of training and equipping the Syrian opposition while simultaneously building up Iraqi security forces.

"It's a fool's errand to think training and equipping troops in Jordan or Saudi Arabia is the answer. We trained the Iraqi forces for eight years and look at the results," Goodman added.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Paris on Tuesday agreed that the United States and Russia should intensify intelligence cooperation against IS.

The IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, the group extended its attacks to northern and western Iraq and declared an Islamic caliphate on the territories under its control. A US-led international coalition is currently carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq.

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