TEHRAN — Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli has warned the Sunni Islamist terror group ISIS not to approach Iranian territory or the Shia shrines in Iraq.
Speaking at a gathering Friday in Tabas, in eastern Iran, Fazli said that ISIS should not get closer than 40 kilometers (25 miles) to Iran's border nor attack any of the Shia holy shrines in Iraq, Iran's Tasnim news agency reported.
The shrines contain remains of relatives of the Prophet Muhammad, and are places of pilgrimage for Iranian and Iraqi Shi'a Muslims. ISIS has shown its eagerness to destroy all religious and historical monuments it considers idolatrous, in keeping with its fanatical interpretations of Sunni Islam, which generally eschews shrines or devotion to saints or religious personalities.
[rebelmouse-image 27089607 alt="""" original_size="800x600" expand=1]Iran-Iraq border. Photo: Hamidreza Sorouri / Persian Dutch Network
Fazli did not say what Iran would do if ISIS were to cross these "red lines." He did however link the terror group with the United States and Israel, referreing to the militia by its Arabic name, denouncing "Daesh and other Salafist-Zionist groups." The fact that IS was "so powerful as to go to war with governments and armies, shows the reality that it has strong backing," he said.
Fazli said Iran's "advice" and aid in recent years had helped save Iraq from "another fate." Iran is actively helping Syria's President Bashar al-Assad fight an array of rebel armies as well as terrorist groups like ISIS. On November 6, Prague-based Farsi language Radio Farda cited reports from Syria that two more members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and a member of the Hezballah, the Lebanese militia financed by Iran, had recently died in fighting in Syria.