TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran rejected a US request for cooperation against the Islamic State group early in its advance in Iraq and Syria, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday.
“Right from the start, the United States asked through its ambassador in Iraq whether we could cooperate against Daesh (Arabic acronym for IS),” Khamenei said in a statement on his official website.
“I said no, because they have dirty hands,” said Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state in Iran.
“Secretary of State (John Kerry) personally asked (Iranian counterpart) Mohammad Javad Zarif and he rejected the request,” said Khamenei, who was leaving hospital after what doctors said was a successful prostate surgery.
He accused Washington of seeking a “pretext to do in Iraq and Syria what it already does in Pakistan – bomb anywhere without authorisation”.
This handout photo provided by the office of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shows him talking to a state television reporter after being discharged from a hospital in Tehran on September 15. Khamenei, 75, successfully underwent prostate surgery it was announced, in an unprecedented public statement about his health, which has long been the subject of speculation – AFP
Washington had appealed for help from all regional states against the militants, who spearheaded a lightning offensive through the Sunni Arab heartland north and west of Baghdad in June and then unleashed a wave of atrocities against ethnic and religious minorities.
But last week Kerry ruled out cooperation with Tehran citing its “engagement in Syria and elsewhere” and neither the Iranian nor the Syrian governments were invited to an international conference on the IS threat that opened in Paris on Monday.
Tehran has been the main regional ally of the Damascus government throughout the three-and-a-half-year uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.
It strongly criticised President Barack Obama’s announcement last Wednesday that he had authorised US air strikes against IS targets in Syria without the consent of Damascus.