TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran is to help Iraq rebuild its army under an agreement that could formalise Tehran’s military support for its neighbour, which remains under assault by the Islamic State (IS) group.
No details of the pact were released but state television said the two sides had “agreed to continue cooperation in the defence arena with the creation of a national army to protect the territorial integrity and security of Iraq.”
The memorandum of understanding was signed late Tuesday in Tehran where Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obaidi is holding talks with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Dahqan.
“The two sides stressed the need for consultations to ensure security, because terrorism affects not only security in Iraq but security throughout the region,” the statement added.
The Iraqi military melted in the face of the militant surge in June, with many soldiers simply abandoning their weapons and uniforms, allowing IS to seize large areas of the country. Within days, Shiite Iran sent military advisers to Iraq, which is also predominantly Shiite, to help train and equip troops and allied militias for a counteroffensive against IS.