Iran says it will strike if Islamic State nears border
Military commander warns of attacks ‘deep into Iraqi territory’ unless militants keep their distance, as coalition strikes Syria
By AFP and AP September 27, 2014, 3:17 pm
Iranian soldiers salute from a tank during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of Iran’s war with Iraq (1980-88) in Tehran, on September 22, 2014 (Photoc credit: Behrouz Mehri/AFP)
Iran will attack Islamic State group jihadists inside Iraq if they advance near the border, ground forces commander General Ahmad Reza Pourdestana said in comments published on Saturday.
“If the terrorist group (IS) comes near our borders, we will attack deep into Iraqi territory and we will not allow it to approach our border,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Pourdestana as saying.
The Sunni extremists of IS control a large territory north of Baghdad, including in Diyala province, which borders Shiite Iran.
The United States launched air strikes on IS targets in Iraq in August and has since widened them to Syria, where the jihadist group has its headquarters, as part of an international coalition to crush the group.
Iran is a close ally of the Shiite-led government in Iraq and has been unusually accepting of US military action in Iraq against the jihadists.
It has provided support to both the Iraqi government and Iraqi Kurdish forces fighting the jihadists and has dispatched weapons and military advisers.
But Tehran, a close ally of the Damascus government, has criticised air strikes on Syria, saying they would not help restore stability in the region.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said he rejected a US offer to join the international coalition it has been building against the jihadists.
On Saturday activists said the American-led coalition launched airstrikes on IS positions including wheat silos in the Syria’s east.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes targeted compounds for the Islamic State group in the central province of Homs and the northern region of Raqqa.
The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, said the Saturday strikes hit the eastern province of Deir el-Zour as well as Raqqa.
The LCC also said the coalition targeted wheat silos west of the eastern city of Deir el-Zour.
The coalition, which began its aerial campaign against Islamic State fighters in Syria early Tuesday, aims to roll back and ultimately crush the extremist group, which has created a proto-state spanning the Syria-Iraq border.