"I believe that [Russia] can do what the Americans could not"

Iraq’s government and powerful Iranian-backed militias question the United States’ resolve in fighting ISIS militants, alleging the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes are ineffective. Besides, after the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, subsequent civil war and the Western coalition’s withdrawal, few expected to see the American military return in any form.

“I believe that [Russia] can do what the Americans could not,” said Ali Hussein Al-Obaidi, a 42-year-old who owns a mini-supermarket in Baghdad.

“The Russians are serious in fighting terrorism in Syria and Iraq because they know exactly the danger behind these terrorists,” he added. “If Russia leaves the terrorists free … they will go in the future to Russia and cause trouble.”…

Like Shiites, many Sunnis find ISIS repellent, and would also support a Russian intervention despite having “their own concerns about it,” Al-Abyadh added.

According to Hussam Abdullah Mohammed, a Sunni secondary school teacher in Baghdad who would support Russian bombing, this apprehensiveness stems from “the role of Iran [which is] supporting the Assad regime [in Syria].”