U.S. dismisses rumors of talks with Iran over Iraq
Washington has dismissed media reports about consultations between Iran and the U.S. about the ongoing crisis in Iraq.
"No, we are not talking to the Iranians about Iraq," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters on Friday in response to a question about the likelihood of any direct or indirect contacts between the two countries over the issue.
Also in a Friday interview with Mehr news agency, an informed Iranian diplomat dismissed the U.S. media reports that Iran has dispatched three battalions to Iraq, saying such rumors are not reliable.
The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Takfiri terrorist group, an extremist group that has been wreaking havoc in Syria, recently captured a number of cities in northern and north-central Iraq.
On Friday, top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a religious decree calling on people to take up arms and defend their country against the Takfiri militants.
Iraqi men from all walks of life are flocking to recruitment centers to join the army in its fight against the ISIL extremists.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also said authorities will arm citizens in Nineveh and Salahuddin provinces to fight the militants. Maliki has blamed Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing Riyadh as a major supporter of global terrorism.
Over the past days, Iraqi armed forces have been engaged in fierce clashes with the terrorists, who have threatened to take their acts of violence to other Iraqi cities, including the capital, Baghdad.