The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday rejected recent media reports that Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani is in Iraq to help the country in its war on terrorists, stressing that no Iranian military official is in the country.
“No military official, specially General Qassem Soleimani, is in Iraq and these reports are untrue,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham told reporters in her weekly press conference here in Tehran on Wednesday.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham
She further pointed out that Iraq has not requested military and security help from Tehran, but said, “If such a request is made, decision will be made after the demand is studied in accordance with the relations with Iraq and international protocols.”
The spokeswoman once again rejected Iran-US cooperation over Iraq, reiterating, “We are opposed to any kind of foreign intervention in Iraq, because it will weaken Iraq’s sovereignty and (right of) self-determination.”
Iraq’s Ambassador to Tehran Mohammad Majid al-Sheikh had also earlier rejected the media claims about the presence of General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
“These are just the rumors of biased and despiteful media which are seeking to sow discord among the regional states, specially Iran and Iraq,” Majid al-Sheikh said, addressing a conference in Tehran on Tuesday.
“Iraq doesn’t need any country neither for weapons nor for the military forces at all; hence, I emphasize that neither General Soleimani nor any other (Iranian) figure is in Iraq,” he reiterated.
The US Wall Street Journal in a report earlier this month claimed that Tehran has sent two elite units of its IRGC to Iraq to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) terrorists – an Al-Qaeda offshoot.
Also other western media alleged that General Soleimani has traveled to Iraq to consult with the Iraqi officials on fighting terrorism.
A few hours later, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian categorically rejected the report, and told FNA that “the dispatch of Iranian military forces to Iraq is not true”.
The Iranian deputy foreign minister also stressed Iraq’s strong military capabilities, and reiterated that Iraq’s armed forces are powerfully fighting against the ISIL militants.
Also later, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani stressed that Iran is not involved in the clashes in Iraq, and said that the Iraqi nation is able to ward off terrorism.
“We, as the Islamic Republic, are Iraq’s friend and neighbor and have good relations with the Iraqi government and nation,” Rouhani told reporters in a press conference earlier this month.
“If the Iraqi government wants help, we will study it; of course no demand has yet been raised until today but we are ready for help within the framework of the international laws and at the request of the Iraqi nation,” he added.
“Of course, we should know that help and assistance is one issue, and interference and entrance (into the battlefield) is another. If the Iraqi government demands us we will help them, but the entrance of the Iranian troops (onto the scene of battles in Iraq) has never been considered,” the president said.
“Since the onset of its establishment, the Islamic Republic has never taken such measures and we have never sent our troops to another country for operations,” he said, and added, “Of course, we will provide countries with our consultative views.”
The Iranian president further warned of Iran’s tough confrontation with the ISIL or any other terrorist group which might come close to the Iranian borders, and said, “If a terrorist group approaches our borders, we will definitely confront it, because our duty is defending our territorial integrity and national interests.”
He also warned those states which are providing financial back up and arms supports for the ISIL and other terrorist groups, cautioning that they would return to set fire to those countries as well.
He described terrorism as an important issue in the region, and said the recent events in Iraq happened because the terrorist groups are mad at the results of the election which kept the Shiites and al-Maliki in power through a completely democratic trend.
He said some groups’ intention for “compensating their loss and failure in the election through terrorism is not acceptable”.
Rouhani further played down the power of the ISIL terrorists, saying that the collapse of Mosul was the product of a whole set of elements and some coordination (made with a number of traitors in the city).