Iran ambassador to Baghdad talks to Rudaw TV on September 2, 2017. Photo: Rudaw
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad told Rudaw on Saturday morning that the deal that is set to secure the transfer of ISIS militants from Syria’s west to the east near the Iraqi border will not have “much of an impact” on Syria and Iraq in their fight against the extremist group.
Ambassador Iraj Masjedi said Iran has been supporting both Damascus and Baghdad in their fight, and expressed his conviction that the two are sincere in “bringing full security” to the region.
He said that fighting the ISIS group requires an effort from both countries since the militants have territorial control that extends from Syria to Iraq.
The Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militia and the Syrian regime struck a deal with ISIS militants near the Lebanese border last weekend to transfer more than 300 ISIS militants to the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor that borders Iraq.
Iraq, the Kurdistan Region and the US-led Global Coalition fighting ISIS have expressed their concern and opposition to the deal.
The Coalition have since carried out airstrikes that blocked the deal from going ahead as planned, while the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called it an “insult” to the people of Iraq.
The Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah hit back at Iraq saying that the deal that stipulated the transfer will take place within Syria, not to Iraq.
Ambassador Masjedi underestimated the rift between Baghdad on one hand, and Syria and Hezbollah on the other.
Asked if Iraq has expressed its concerns over the deal, Masjedi said the two sides are fighting ISIS “in their own areas.”
“The two countries have to make an effort to clear the presence of ISIS in their areas,” Masjedi said as he attended an Eid al-Adha prayer in Baghdad.
“Both Syrians and Iraqis are interested in bringing full security. The Islamic republic, as it's known by the people of Iraq is providing help and cooperation to the two countries. Therefore these talks will not have much of an impact on the issue," the ambassador continued. "What is important is for everyone to make an effort to take decisive and strong steps to clear the terrorists."
The deal also includes that ISIS militants will hand over the body of an Iranian national killed in Syria.
A Coalition stated they had delivered a message to Damascus, via the regime’s ally Russia that they will not allow the fighters to move closer to the Iraqi border and suggested a “course of action to save the women and children from any further suffering as a result of the Syrian regime's agreement.”
The convoy of 17 buses carrying hundreds of ISIS militants and their families is still in the Syrian desert between Humayma and As Sukhnah, where the coalition is targeting ISIS vehicles attempting to assist the convoy.