Iraq gets "balanced support" from Iran, U.S. in fight against IS

Iraq gets "balanced support" from Iran, U.S. in fight against IS
# 09 March 2015 21:13 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The Iraqi Defense Minister said Monday that his country is receiving "balanced assistance" from the United States and Iran in its fighting against the Islamic State (IS) militant group, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The Iraqi minister Khaled al-Obeidi's comments came during a joint press conference with the top U.S. general, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is on a brief visit to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

"We are in a state of war... and there is a balanced U.S. and Iranian assistance with weapons and intelligence to the Iraqi forces," Obeidi said, dismissing the U.S. fears that Iran is playing too big a role in Iraq's fighting against the extremist IS group.

"We have dealings with the world states, whether America or Iran... When Daash (IS militant group) captured some Iraqi cities, the situation of the army was very critical, so we asked for help from friends," Obeidi said.

When asked if the United States would use air power to protect Iraqi antiquities from destruction by IS, Dempsey said it's possible for the air power to defend the Iraqi heritage sites, but the airstrikes must be "very precise" to avoid civilian casualties, as Washignton does not want to create additional suffering as it targets IS militants in Iraq.

Dempsey is also scheduled to meet with the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and senior U.S. officials during his visit to Baghdad.

Earlier in the day, Dempsey arrived in Baghdad to meet with the Iraqi leaders and military officials to discuss the military cooperation and development of fighting against IS militants in Iraq's northern central province of Salahudin.

Iraqi security forces began their biggest offensive last week via five paths in an attempt to free the provincial capital city of Tikrit and other towns and villages across the province from IS militants.