World Bulletin/News Desk
Twenty-nine Iranian soldiers were killed in clashes with ISIL across Iraq in December 2014, a senior security source told The Anadolu Agency on Monday.
Shakhuan Abdullah, a member of Iraq's parliamentary defense committee, said that the existence of Iranian soldiers in Iraq is not hidden anymore.
“The Iranian soldiers exist in areas of conflicts with ISIL in Iraq, including the disputed areas between the Kurdish region in northern Iraq and the central Iraqi government,” Abdullah said.
“The existence of Iranian soldiers in Iraq is a sensitive issue and illegal due to the lack of Iraqi parliamentary permission,” Abdullah said.
The actual number of killed Iranian soldiers is widely expected to be higher than that legally declared. Iranian soldiers exist in most of the clash-stricken areas in Anbar, western Iraq, Samarra, northern Iraq, and also in Jalawla and al-Saadia in eastern Iraq, Abdullah added.
Habib al-Tarafi, a member of the Iraqi parliament, however, disputed the existence of the Iranian soldiers in Iraq.
“There are no Iranian soldiers in Iraq and all the news published about their existence is untrue,” al-Tarafi said.
Habib al-Tarafi, an MP from the national coalition – the largest bloc in the Iraqi parliament which the Iraqi PM also belongs to – said that there are Shiite volunteers from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to fight ISIL upon a request from the Shiite Marja’ – a high-ranking Shiite authority. Except for these volunteer fighters, there are no Iranian regime soldiers in Iraq, he said.
“A number of the volunteer fighters were killed and wounded in Iraq. The Shiite volunteer fighters came to Iraq to fight ISIL by their own will,” al-Tarafi said.
The sources’ statements could not be independently verified from Iranian or Iraqi authorities.
In September, a video was broadcast showing an Iranian general, whom activists alleged to be Qasem Soleimani.
Another photo showed him with an Iraqi soldier after the operation which broke ISIL’s siege of Amirli town in Saladin province in northern Iraq.
Qasem Soleimani is the leader of the Quds Force, the special forces unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards responsible for military operations abroad.
The U.S. had accused Soleimani of interference and destabilizing security in Iraq.
Iran was the first country to declare its support for Iraq in its fight against ISIL. In a speech on Dec. 20, 2014, Iranian Minister of Defense Hossein Dehghan admitted to the existence of military personnel, including Qasem Soleimani, inside Iraq. He added that Soleimani is only advising the Iraqi army.
The Guardian, a British newspaper, said on July 29, 2014 that Soleimani has a large influence in Iraq and that Baghdad’s residents think that he is the secret ruler of their country.
27 ISIL militants, four troops killed
Meanwhile, at least 27 ISIL militants and four Iraqi troops were killed in Iraq’s Anbar and Diyala provinces, security sources said.
In the first incident, 20 ISIL militants were killed and five vehicles were destroyed in U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes around 140 miles (220 kilometers) from Ramadi city, Iraqi army’s General Diyaa Kazim Dabous said.
"The militants were gathering west of al-Haditha near Ramadi and preparing for an attack when they were hit," Dabous added.
An Iraqi army battalion also arrived at Ramadi from Baghdad to reinforce Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters, security advisor of Anbar province, Aziz Halaf al-Tarmouz, said.
Seven other ISIL militants were killed in clashes with Iraqi security forces backed by a Shia militia force, al-Hashd al-Shaabi, in northwestern Ba’qubah between Diyala and Saladin provinces, a security source said.
"The clashes occurred after ISIL attacked an Iraqi military base. Four Iraqi forces personnel were also killed and 11 others were also wounded," the source added.
The number of deaths could not be independently verified.
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