Crucial Backing in Anti-IS Fight Appreciated

Crucial Backing in Anti-IS Fight Appreciated
Crucial Backing in Anti-IS Fight Appreciated

Iraq's prime minister said on Friday Iran was providing Iraq with "crucial backing" to help it fight the so-called Islamic State (IS), which has seized large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.  

Haider al-Abadi said at the World Economic Forum in Davos Iran was filling the gap while the West was sometimes slow to deliver help, Reuters reported.

"They have been prompt in sending us arms and ammunition without even asking for immediate payments," he said.

Abadi made a special mention of Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, as an ally against Islamic State.

"We have respect for him and the Iranian establishment," he said when asked about the role Soleimani played in the fight against IS. But he said no Iranian soldier was or had been present on Iraqi soil.

Elsewhere, he said help from the West had been slow but had accelerated in recent weeks.

"I have received quite sizeable (amounts of) ammunition free of charge. And we have been promised deferred payments on some arms sales to Iraq," he said.

The United States and its allies have been carrying out airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria to counter last year's dramatic advances by the Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate on territory captured in both countries.

Washington and Tehran are at odds on most issues, from Iran's disputed nuclear program to the conflict in Syria, but in Iraq they share a common interest in helping Abadi defeat the IS militants.

Iran has refused to join the US-led international coalition against IS, which includes some regional countries, as it believes members of the coalition have adopted double standards in dealing with the terrorist groups operating in the region.