Visiting Baghdad on Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (pictured) has repeated Tehran’s denial that hundreds of its troops and tanks entered enter eastern Iraq last Friday.
“Security sources” had told Al Jazeera that up to 1,500 Iranian soldiers crossed the border to help Kurdish forces seize the town of Jalawla. Kurdish activists posted photos claiming to be of Iranian tanks in the area.
However, Zarif said after a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari, “We believe that our Iraqi brothers, including Kurdish and Sunni brothers, are capable of defending themselves and Iraq does not need Iran to defend it.”
The Foreign Minister maintained that Iran could support Iraq, against the insurgent offensive that has taken some of its largest cities, with political, diplomatic, and economic assistance: “The Islamic Republic of Iran defends the territorial integrity, development and security of Iraq and sees it as a priority of its foreign diplomacy.”
Zebari supported Zarif’s denial, “When we asked for international support against the ISIL (Islamic State), we didn’t want military forces since there are no deficiencies in the number of Iraqi army forces and the (Kurdish) peshmerga.”
The Iranian Foreign Ministry dismissed the Al Jazeera report on Saturday, “The Islamic Republic of Iran has not dispatched any military force to Iraq and has no plan to do so”.
Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan added in a press conference:
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 (the Islamic State) as the Iraqi nation and government, relying on the central role of the religious authority, are able to confront it.
In June, soon after insurgents seized the cities of Mosul and Tikrit and moved on Baghdad, Iran’s senior military advisors went to Baghdad to assist the Iraqi armed forces in re-establishing lines of defense. Reports claimed up to 2,000 Iranian forces helped in the effort to the north of Baghdad.
Prominent Student Activist Majid Tavakoli Given Prison Furlough After Almost 5 Years
Three political prisoners — student activist Majid Tavakoli and political activist Mehdi Motamedi Mehr — have been given furloughs from prison:
Tavakoli was arrested just after he gave a rousing speech on National Students Day in December 2009 amid the mass protests after the disputed Presidential election.
Motamedi Mehr was given a five-year sentence for attending demonstrations on the religious day of Ashura in December 2009.
Revolutionary Guards: We Are Decoding Intelligence From Downed Israeli Drone
Revolutionary Guards officials are declaring that they are decoding the intelligence devices of an Israeli spy drone shot down on Sunday.
The Guards claim its Aerospace Force intercepted the drone before it could reach the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.
The head of the Guards’ Public Relations Department, General Ramezan Sharif, said some of the parts of the downed aircraft are working “and our experts are studying the information and intelligence of these parts”.