State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf was adamant that the United States would not be working with the Syrian government to fight the Islamic State — but couldn’t say the same about the Syrian government’s chief ally and patron, Iran.
Harf spoke with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday about reports that the American government is providing intelligence assets to the forces of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad as they wage war against Islamic State jihadists in their country. “Is that true?” Blitzer asked.
“Not at all,” Harf said. “I can categorically reject that. We will not work with the Assad regime. We will not share intelligence with them. We will not coordinate with them. Period. Full stop. I don’t want to be any clearer than that.”
“What about Iran?” Blitzer asked, claiming that Secretary of State John Kerry has already suggested “coordination” between the United States and the Shiite theocracy.
“Well, not coordination,” Harf said. “What he’s suggesting is that we’re open to conversations with them. We’ve already had a few on the sidelines on the nuclear negotiations we had the last few months in Vienna, where we talked to them about Iraq. Because they know ISIL poses a threat to them as well.”
“So we’re open to that conversation,” she continued. “We won’t be coordinating with them, either. But they certainly have a role to play here, if they can support the new, inclusive government in Iraq . . . We are open to having a conversation with them about this shared threat.”
Harf specified that the United States wants Iran to “support” the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State — likely a reference to military assistance as well as political and economic aid.