The impact of cooperation on interference management is investigated by studying an elemental wireless network, the so-called symmetric interference relay channel (IRC), from a generalized degrees of freedom (GDoF) perspective. This is motivated by the fact that the deployment of relays is considered as a remedy to overcome the bottleneck of current systems in terms of achievable rates. The focus of this paper is on the regime in which the interference link is weaker than the source-relay link in the IRC. Our approach toward studying the GDoF goes through the capacity analysis of the linear deterministic IRC (LD-IRC). New upper bounds on the sum capacity of the LD-IRC based on genie-aided approaches are established. These upper bounds together with some existing upper bounds are achieved by using four novel transmission schemes. Extending the upper bounds and the transmission schemes to the Gaussian case, the GDoF of the Gaussian IRC is characterized for the aforementioned regime. This completes the GDoF results available in the literature for the symmetric GDoF. It turns out that even if the incoming and outgoing links of the relay are both weaker than the desired channel, involving a relay can increase the GDoF. Interestingly, utilizing the relay in this case can increase the slope of the GDoF from -2 [in the interference channel (IC)] to -1 or 0. This shrinks the regime where ignoring the interference by treating it as noise is optimal. Furthermore, the analysis shows that if the relay ingoing and outgoing links are sufficiently strong, the relay is able to neutralize the interference completely. In this case, the bottleneck of the transmission will be the interference links, and hence, the GDoF increases if the interference link gets stronger. It is shown that in the strong interference regime, in contrast to the IC, the GDoF can be a monotonically decreasing function of the interference level. © 1963-2012 IEEE.