Iran’s Khamenei ‘strongly opposed to U.S. interference’ in Iraq

The Washington Post reports: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made remarks Sunday that lessened any remaining possibility of military cooperation between the Islamic republic and the United States in securing Iraq against an onslaught from al-Qaeda-inspired militants.

“We don’t support any foreign interference in Iraq and we’re strongly opposed to U.S. interference there,” Khamenei said at an event with members of Iran’s judiciary, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

While officials in Washington and Tehran had earlier signaled a willingness to work together to rid the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the comments from Khamenei show a growing divide between the interests of the long-opposed governments.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last Saturday that once he knows what the U.S.’s plans are for intervening, his government would “think about cooperation with them in Iraq.” [Continue reading…]

The New York Times reports: The long lines of Shiite fighters began marching through the capital early Saturday morning. Some wore masks. One group had yellow and green suicide explosives, which they said were live, strapped to their chests.

As their numbers grew, they swelled into a seemingly unending procession of volunteers with rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, backed by mortar crews and gun and rocket trucks.

The Mahdi Army, the paramilitary force that once led a Shiite rebellion against American troops here, was making its largest show of force since it suspended fighting in 2008. This time, its fighters were raising arms against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, the Qaeda splinter group that has driven Iraq’s security forces from parts of the country’s north and west.

Chanting “One, two, three, Mahdi!” they implored their leader, the cleric Moktada al-Sadr, to send them to battle.

“ISIS is not as strong as a finger against us,“ said one fighter, Said Mustafa, who commanded a truck carrying four workshop-grade rockets — each, he said, packed with C4 explosive. “If Moktada gives us the order, we will finish ISIS in two days.” [Continue reading…]

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