Minister: Iran will send arms to Iraq but not troops

Hossein Amir Abdollahian also called on all those in Iraq to obey the country's constitution

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Iran will not send troops to fight a militant offensive in Iraq but will supply weapons if the government in Baghdad asks for help, the deputy foreign minister said Tuesday.

“We have no intention of sending our armed forces into Iraq. Iraq has its own powerful army,” Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on a visit to Moscow, although he said the country would be sending military “consultants”.

He said Iraq had not yet asked for arms but “in the case that there was such a demand... we would supply the necessary weapons for the fight against terrorism.”

Predominantly Shiite Iran has vowed to support ally Baghdad against the Sunni insurgency led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), whose fighters have overrun swathes of five Iraqi provinces since launching an offensive in early June.

At a press conference after meetings with his Russian counterparts on the offensive in Iraq and neighbouring Syria, the minister also called on all those in Iraq to obey the country's constitution.

Speaking after the Kurdish authorities said they would be holding a referendum on regional independence within months, the diplomat said it was now “vital to take measures to prevent the break-up of the country.”

“Instead of daydreaming, the leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan should take a look at the reality,” he said.

On Sunday, Sunni insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) announced they were establishing a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria where the group has seized control.

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