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Iran 'backs US military

contacts' to fight Islamic State


Iran regards IS, which sees Shia Muslims as heretics, as a serious threat
5 September 2014
Iran's Supreme Leader has approed co!operation "ith the US
as part of the fight against Islamic State #IS$ in Ira%& sources hae told ''( )ersian*
Ayatollah Khamenei has authorised his top commander to co-ordinate military operations with
the US, Iraqi and Kurdish forces, sources in Tehran say.
Iran has traditionally opposed US inolement in Iraq, an Iranian ally.
!oweer, Iran"s foreign ministry officially denied it would co-operate with the US against IS.
Ministry spo#eswoman Mar$iyeh Af#ham told Iran"s %ress T& the report was not correct.
Tehran had 'een critical of the way (ashington launched air stri#es on IS only after US
interests came under threat, she said.
A further indication that Iran may hae approed co-operation with the US comes from )**"s
)hristiane Amanpour, "ho t"eeted that Iraqi %resident +uad Masum had told her as much on
Thursday.
Shia Iran sees the e,tremist Sunni IS group, which iews Shias as heretics, as a serious threat.
-ast month US air stri#es helped Iranian-'ac#ed Shia militia and Kurdish forces 'rea# a two-
month siege 'y Islamic State of the Shia town of Amerli.
IS has ta#en oer swathes of northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria in recent months.
US forces 'egan carrying out air stri#es on IS positions in August after they too# oer seeral
cities in northern Iraq.
+nalysis, -asra .a/i& ''( )ersian
This new-found cooperation with US forces indicates a change in Iran"s policy in Iraq, al'eit
one 'orne out of necessity.
In .//0, Iran cooperated with the US in Afghanistan 'y arming and supporting the *orthern
Alliance which eentually oerthrew the Tali'an goernment.
*ow, there is a similar need to stop a threat, which Iran 'y itself can only defeat 'y 'ringing in
thousands of troops.
1efeating Islamic State will remoe the threat on Iran"s western 'orders and help sta'ilise Iran"s
two main allies in the region, Iraq and Syria.
Iran can also aoid large num'ers of 'oots on the ground, as long as Iraqi Shia militias, loyal to
Iran"s Ayatollah Khamenei, stand ready to ta#e up the 'anner and fight.
Iran"s change of heart will no dou't 'e welcomed in (ashington and -ondon, where a 2oint
strategy is ta#ing shape towards creating a 'road alliance of international and regional players
to deal with the IS threat.
Sources say Ayatollah Khamenei has sanctioned 3en 4asem Soleimani, the commander of the
4uds +orce - an elite oerseas unit of the 5eolutionary 3uards - to wor# with forces fighting
IS, including the US.
Iran's 0en 1asem Soleimani
Iran"s
3en 4asem Soleimani has 'een planning a strategy to cur' further adances of IS fighters
)ommander of the 4uds +orce, the 5eolutionary 3uard"s elite oerseas operations arm
(idely credited with the strategy that helped Syria"s goernment recapture #ey cities and towns
from re'els
More recently has 'een in 6aghdad strengthening defences with the help of Iraqi Shia militias
to stem the adance of IS
Internet photos place him in northern Iraq at the time the siege of Amerli was 'ro#en
Iran's 1asem Soleimani "ields po"er behind the scenes in Ira%
3en Soleimani has 'een actie in the past few months in strengthening the defences of
6aghdad with the help of Iraqi Shia militias.
!is picture has appeared on the internet showing him in northern Iraq around the time of the
'rea#ing of the siege of Amerli - an indication that this co-operation may hae already started.
'.o boots on the ground'
Meanwhile, *ato leaders meeting at a summit in (ales say they want to form a military
coalition to ta#e on IS.
Kurdi
sh forces, pictured here, fighting with Iraqi soldiers hae pushed IS 'ac# from parts of northern
Iraq
The
US has 'een helping the offensie 'y carrying out air stri#es on IS positions
!und
reds of thousands of people from communities targeted 'y IS hae fled their homes
7(e need to attac# them in ways that preent them from ta#ing oer territory, to 'olster the
Iraqi security forces and others in the region who are prepared to ta#e them on, without
committing troops of our own,7 5euters news agency quotes US Secretary of State 8ohn Kerry
as saying.
79'iously I thin# that"s a red line for eery'ody here: *o 'oots on the ground,7 he said.
The 'rutality of IS - including mass #illings and a'ductions of mem'ers of religious and ethnic
minorities, as well as the 'eheadings of soldiers and 2ournalists - has spar#ed outrage across the
world.
-ast month Iraqi and Kurdish forces pushed IS 'ac# from parts of northern Iraq, 'ut the group
still controls what it has declared as a caliphate stretching across Syria and Iraq.
Since the Islamic reolution in 0;<;, the US and Iran hae had a fraught relationship.
(ashington seered ties the following year after Iranian students occupied the US em'assy in
Tehran and too# =. Americans hostage.