Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 26
By Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Iran's interior minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli quotes president Hassan Rouhani as saying the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf in Iraq are red lines for Iran.
Rahmani Fazli said that Rouhani made the remarks in a time when the cities are threatened by the Islamic State militants, Iran's Mehr news agency reported Aug. 26.
"In a meeting the president was informed that Najaf and Karbala may be captured by the IS," the minister said, adding "at that meeting, the President said the two cities are Iran's red lines and if this happens there will be no restrictions on military operations against the IS."
Rahmani Fazli further went on to say that Iraq's problem is very important for the Islamic Republic.
He said that Iran's mediation on the issue in time, and Iran's important strategies resulted in the release of some Iraqi cities from the control of the IS.
Rahmani Fazli explained that the main decisions in the Islamic Republic are being made by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei however, the operational decisions are made by Supreme National Security Council which is headed by the president.
Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected reports about the presence of Iranian military forces in Iraq.
Some Kurdish media have underscored the significant role of Iranian forces in fighting against the IS. The media reports say Iranian forces have a decisive presence on the battlefield of the fight.
Rahmani Fazli insists that the Islamic Republic has given only advice and organizational structure to the armed forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in north of Iraq.
The IS militants have taken several towns since they intensified their attacks in Iraq in mid-June. The group reportedly has been committing crimes in those areas, including the mass execution of civilians as well as army troops and officers.
The IS fighters have been bombarded since Aug. 8 by U.S. air strikes in northern Iraq, allowing Kurdish Peshmerga forces to claw back a limited amount of lost territory, including the Qaraj area, which they retook on Aug. 24.
Since Aug. 8, the U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 96 air strikes across Iraq. Of those, 62 were in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul dam, Centcom said.