U.S. asks old foe for help with ISIS

The Obama administration's newest battlefront against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is the United Nations.

World leaders are coming to New York for this year's official U.N. General Assembly, and American officials will try to convince them to join the fight against the terror group.

The U.S. is even asking Iran, a longtime enemy, to get involved.

Margaret Brennan says Secretary of State John Kerry has reached out to Iranian officials on the sidelines of the U.N. events in New York.

The administration wants Iran to help, but it's not clear what role Tehran is willing to play in the battle against the extremists.

In a private meeting near the U.N., Kerry met with his counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, on Sunday afternoon.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to the media after closed-door nuclear talks on Iran take place in Vienna, Austria, July 15, 2014. AP

Kerry brought up the threat posed by ISIS, a common enemy to Iran and the U.S. which has seized territory on Iran's doorstep in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

Iran has military advisers in those countries and now the U.S. is publicly backing a role for the Islamic Republic in the conflict.

"The fact is there is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran," said Kerry.

The administration insists that it will not coordinate military operations or intelligence sharing with Iran, which is ruled by an elite group of Shiite Muslim clerics.

Doing so, they say, would anger U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two Sunni-led countries which have privately offered to help the U.S. expand airstrikes from Iraq into Syria.

The coalition against ISIS being forged by the U.S. State Department now stands more than 50 countries. Brennan says Saudi Arabia is to host training camps for Syrian fighters, Jordan will share intelligence, Germany is providing weapons to Iraq and France is conducting its own airstrikes in Iraq.

In a string of television appearances on Sunday, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power said some countries would also join the fight against ISIS on the Syrian side of the border, from the air, at least.

"We will not do the airstrikes alone if the president decides to do the airstrikes," Power said.

Some U.S. allies, however, with France included, are concerned that airstrikes in Syria would violate international law since the Assad government has not given permission.

Iran, a staunch ally to the Assad regime, could help persuade Syria to allow international military action.

At the U.N., President Obama will press world leaders to stem the flow of funds and foreign terrorists to ISIS.

He'll also make the case that the world is compelled to act -- and that may require persuading foes like Russia and Iran to help.