Iranian leaders are pledging lasting support for neighboring Iraq in its fight against Islamic State militants.
Tehran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday that he considers security of the two countries to be "inseparable." The Iranian cleric said that "security of brotherly, neighborly Iraq is as indispensable as our own."
Earlier, the official Iranian news agency reported that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told Abadi that his government will support Baghdad "from the first day and will remain on that path until the last day."
Rouhani said countries in the region need to "confront terrorism in a united and coordinated way." He said Iran will continue to provide Iraq with military advisers and weapons.
Abadi said "terrorism is a threat to all regional countries and we are sure Iran will stand by us." He said that choosing Iran for his first foreign visit since assuming office last month "indicates the depth of ties" between the two countries.
Islamic State jihadists have taken over a wide swath of Iraq and neighboring Syria in an attempt to impose a borderless religious caliphate.
In Iraq, the Sunni insurgents continued their almost daily bomb attacks targeting Shi'ite neighborhoods. Authorities said attacks Tuesday in and near Baghdad killed at least 21 people, with the most devastating blasts killing 15 at a restaurant.
One eyewitness, Qassim Hassan, said one bomb exploded, then a second a short time later.
''A car bomb exploded here near the restaurant, and when people gathered at the blast site, another car bomb went off,'' said Hassan.
Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.
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