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Iran's Khamenei hails Iraq's 'success' against jihadists

2 min

Tehran (AFP)

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday praised the "success" of Iraqi forces in the battle against the Islamic State group in Mosul.

"Today Daesh is fleeing Iraq and this is an admirable success," Khamenei said in reference to the jihadist group as he received Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Tehran.

But he warned that Iraq "should not trust" the United States, which is leading a coalition fighting IS in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Abadi is on a regional tour that started in Saudi Arabia and will include a stop in Kuwait.

He also met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as Iraqi forces on Tuesday pressed an assault on the Old City in western Mosul, the last part of Iraq's second city still held by the jihadists.

"The liberation of Mosul is the symbol of the end of terrorism and a victory for Iran, Iraq, Syria and all the countries of the region that are fighting against terrorism," Rouhani said during talks with Abadi.

He said Iran stands by Iraq in its fight against the jihadists and considers a "victory over terrorism" as its own.

Iraqi commanders said fierce clashes were taking place in the Old City on Tuesday but admitted that the jihadists were putting up fierce resistance.

"We have many obstacles -- the nature of the land, the nature of the construction, the roads and the civilian population -- all of which make us slow down our work," Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi told AFP in Iraq.

Shiite-majority Iran has been a key backer of the Syrian and Iraqi governments as they seek to root out IS and other Sunni rebels, sending thousands of fighters and military advisers.

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