Iran ready to help Iraq confront Islamic State: Senior Tehran official

Reuters , Monday 18 May 2015

Iraqi security forces defend their headquarters against attacks by Islamic State extremists in the eastern part of Ramadi in Anbar province, May 14, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

A senior Iranian official said on Monday his country was ready to help confront Islamic State militants who have seized the Iraqi city of Ramadi, and that he was certain the city would be "liberated" from their grip.

Iraqi Shi'ite paramilitaries were preparing on Monday to deploy en masse to the western province of Anbar after Islamic State militants overran Ramadi, the provincial capital, in their biggest victory since last summer.

"If the Iraqi government officially asks the Islamic Republic of Iran ... to carry out any step that helps Iraq to confront (them)... then the Islamic Republic of Iran will meet this call," Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iran's supreme leader, told Reuters Television.

"I firmly believe that eventually Ramadi, like Tikrit, will be liberated from the grip of extremist terrorists," he said. U.S. officials say they believe Iran, one of Iraq's main allies, has carried out air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq.

While Iraqi government forces and Shi'ite paramilitaries recaptured the city of Tikrit from Islamic State last month, the northern city of Mosul remains under the control of the ultra-hardline Islamists.

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