Iran not to seek military presence in Iraq
Baku, Azerbaijan, March 8
By Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Iran will not have military presence in Iraq, Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces, Major General Hassan Firouzabadi said.
Firouzabadi made the remarks while responding a question about possibility of upgrading Iran's advisory presence in the neighboring country to military presence in the future.
Major General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force is in Iraq for military advice, Firouzabadi said, adding Soleimani is a powerful commander, who is familiar with the complicated wars.
He also criticized the US military presence in Iraq saying establishment of peace and security is not an excuse for a country's military action in sovereign states, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported March 8.
Iraqi army was disintegrated as a result of the US military interference so there was a need for Iran's advisory help, the commander said.
On the other hand, commander of Iranian Army's Ground Force Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan said that Iraq is the Islamic Republic's "strategic depth."
Iran considers Iraq's security as its own, so will offer the neighboring country's army military training and advisory help if it is necessary.
Earlier in September, Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that if there were no Iran's assistance, the Kurdistan Regional Government(KRG) would have been occupied by the IS(Islamic State) group.
"Soleimani, himself with only 70 people prevented the IS from occupying the city of Arbil," Hajizadeh said.
Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected reports about the presence of Iranian military forces in Iraq.
Some KRG media have underscored the significant role of Iranian forces in fighting against the IS. The media reports said Iranian forces have a decisive presence on the battlefield.
The Quds Force, the external-operations arm of the IRGC, has been involved for years in training Iraqi Shiite militias. It has also long worked with Hezbollah in Lebanon and has been reportedly helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the fight against the opposition in that country's civil war.
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