Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari announced on Sunday that Tehran and Baghdad have been cooperating in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group.
Zebari made the remarks in a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif who arrived in Iraq on Sunday to meet the country’s new prime minister and other high-ranking officials.
He also appreciated Iran for its cooperation in the fight against terrorism in different parts of Iraq, and said, “At present, a new reality has emerged in the region, and the international community has come to feel the danger of ISIL.”
“We have demanded international support for our war on terrorism, which is a normal move in the contemporary world. When we asked for international support against the ISIL, we didn’t want military forces since there are no deficiencies in the number of Iraqi army forces and the peshmerga (the Iraqi Kurdish fighters),” the Iraqi prime minister said, implying that cooperation with Iran does not include presence of Iranian soldiers in his country.
His remarks came after Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan rejected media reports on the presence of the country’s military forces in Iraq to fight the ISIL, saying that Baghdad does not need assistance of Iranian troops in its combat against the terrorist group.
“We have made official announcements that we would not spare any effort to assist and back up the Iraqi government and nation in grounds of combat against terrorists, but when it comes to military assistance we believe that there is no need to Iran’s direct presence in Iraq to confront Daesh (ISIL) as the Iraqi nation and government, relying on the central role of the religious authority, are able to confront it,” Dehqan said in a press conference in Tehran on Saturday.
He described the ISIL as a terrorist group at the service of the Zionist regime, and said, “Those who supported them yesterday and support them today too have now come to realize the correctness of Iran’s words that they (the ISIL members) contribute to insecurity in the region.”
“Today the US and France should take action to compensate for their supports (for the ISIL) and become united against Daesh,” Dehqan said.
Late in June, Iraqi Ambassador to Tehran Mohammad Majid al-Sheikh rejected certain media claims about the presence of Iranian military forces and Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
The US Wall Street Journal in a report in June claimed that Tehran has sent two elite units of its IRGC to Iraq to fight against the ISIL terrorists – an Al-Qaeda offshoot.
Upon arrival in Iraq today, the Iranian foreign minister renewed Tehran’s support for the Iraqi people’s fight against terrorism.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always stood and will stand beside the Iraqi people (in their campaign against terrorism),” Zarif told reporters on Sunday.
He said the Iraqi people have felt the serious threat of terrorist groups to their country, adding that the nation sees this threat not “as a sectarian strife among different tribes or religious groups but as a major danger to all Iraqi people which needs to be confronted by all”.
Zarif expressed the pleasure that the wave of terrorist attacks has been controlled in Iraq by the help of religious leaders, and said, “We hope that this danger will be obviated with solidarity and coordination among all Iraqi groups, and that peace and tranquility will return to Iraq again.”