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Iran: President Rouhani offers help to Iraq as Sunni insurgents near Baghdad

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Iran: President Rouhani offers help to Iraq as Sunni insurgents near Baghdad

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Iran stands ready to help the government of neighbouring Iraq in its fight against rapidly-advancing Sunni insurgents.

President Hassan Rouhani made the pledge in a news conference, broadcast live on television, adding that Iran itself would be strongly defended if its security was endangered by terrorist groups.

“We are worried by the advance of terrorism in the region,” he said.

“If the Iraqi government asks us for help, we are ready to consider it but so far no special request has been made. We are ready to assist Iraq within the framework of international law and following an official request from the Iraqi government and people.”

Shia Muslim Iran has strong leverage in Shia-majority Iraq. So alarmed is it as the gains of Sunni jihadists, that Rouhani has not ruled out cooperating with longtime foe the United States if it decides to intervene.

On its nuclear dispute with major powers, he said Iran believes it is still possible to strike a deal by a July 20 deadline.