A senior Iranian commander says Iran played a pivotal role in defending Iraq’s Kurdistan Region against the ISIL terrorist group, noting that the territory could have fallen to Takfiri militants without Iran’s support.
“The ISIL would have captured Iraq’s Kurdistan [Region] if it were not for Iran. General [Qasem] Soleimani [a commander of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)] stopped the ISIL with 70 men and prevented them (militants) from entering [the Kurdish city of] Erbil,” Commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Division Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh said on Tuesday.
He added that the US-led coalition formed to annihilate the ISIL is only part of Washington’s “psychological warfare” policy.
“People still remember that 30 countries of the so-called Friends of Syria formed a coalition in Turkey. What was the purpose of that coalition? They created the ISIL group and similar ones. Where do their weapons and ammunition come from? The US and other countries said not long ago that ‘We supported and trained [the terrorist groups]’. These [groups] are their protégé,” the Iranian commander added.
Hajizadeh further stated that the ISIL was supposed to capture Baghdad by pouring into Iraq from northern Syria and topple the central government there.
Once Baghdad fell, “the Americans were supposed to enter the scene as savior and become the ruler of the region and Iraq. But that scenario failed and they ran aground behind the limits of Baghdad and Samarra (cities),” the Iranian commander added.
Hajizadeh said Iran only provided Iraq with advisory aid, noting that the Islamic Republic took rapid steps to mobilize popular forces in Iraq and the Western scenario failed after Iraq’s influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and other clerics issued a fatwa against ISIL.
The remarks come as the United States and five Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Jordan – have reportedly carried out at least 200 airstrikes against the ISIL militants operating inside Syria.
Some 12 civilians have so far been killed in the attacks which were carried out without approval of the United Nations. The Syrian government says the US had informed it of the strikes in advance.
The ISIL terrorists, of whom many are foreign militants, control large parts of Syria’s east and north. ISIL also sent its Takfiri militants into Iraq in June, seizing large swathes of land straddling the border between Syria and Iraq.