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Iran confirms its support for Iraq with arms and advisors

Iran's deputy foreign minister has said that his country will support Iraq with military forces and advisors in its fight against ISIS, it was announced yesterday. Hossein Amir Abdollahian confirmed that military aid was sent to Iraq after ISIS seized control of Mosul on June 10, noting that Tehran's policy is "clear and transparent regarding its coordination and corporation with Iraq." He added that when Iran says that it is with Iraq in combatting terrorism, it does not hold back on anything that may help, based on the Iraqi government's requests.

"The presence of Iranian advisors in Iraq is to help the army combat terrorism," said Abdollahian, "and we are not hiding this. We are proud and we say it loudly that we support our friends and allies and will not allow terrorists control the future of the region."

He refused to confirm or deny reports that the commander of the Quds Force, Qasem Suleimani, is also in Iraq. He did, however, say that there are also Iranian advisors in Syria "to combat terrorism".

Meanwhile, the Shia National Iraqi Alliance accused the United States of delaying the handover of aircraft and weapons that Baghdad has already paid for. The group made its statement as part of its criticism of the visit to Iraq of US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel. The head of the "Al-Ahrar Bloc" Defence and Security Commission, Hakim Al-Zamili, blamed the Americans for "all of the security deterioration and the repeated violations" in Iraq.

"We are surprised at Chuck Hagel's visit without coordination with the government," said Al-Zamili. "There must be ulterior motives behind this visit because the agenda was not announced and we do not welcome it." According to a member of the Defence and Security Commission, Majed al-Gharawi, the US secretary of defence's visit is "an intervention in internal affairs" and has been made within the context of a US plan to arm the tribes and put pressure on Baghdad to impose the National Guard law. "America is trying to pressure the Iraqi government to serve its own interests," he added.

The Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Salim Al-Jabouri, called on the government to intensify its support for the tribes in order to help them liberate their areas. He met with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi on Thursday and discussed developments in the political and security situation as well as all the ways to combat terrorism. "We need to arm the tribes in a manner that allows them to expel the terrorist groups in order to allow the displaced Iraqis to return to their homes as soon as possible," insisted Al-Jabouri.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, the autonomous President Masoud Barzani said that the goal behind the ISIS attack on the region was to hinder its independence. Speaking to Peshmerga militia fighters returning from Syria, Barzani said that his first impression of ISIS had been that it would not attack Kurdistan. "However, when the independence process was at an advanced stage," he explained, "their goal [the Sunnis] was to halt proceedings through ISIS. In addition, the Arabs living in Kurdish areas [which are disputed with Baghdad] believed that they would join the organisation and empty the area of Kurds and keep us in the mountains." This presumption was wrong, said Barzani. "They did not know that America and its allies would rush to help us this quickly."

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