Iran's president and foreign minister have criticized the United States' policy for fighting Islamic State (IS) militants. President Hassan Rohani gave an interview to U.S. television network NBC on September 17, and questioned whether air strikes alone would be enough to defeat to the militant group.
Rohani asked why the United States was ruling out ground troops for the campaign.
"Are they [U.S.] afraid of their soldiers being killed in the fight they claim is against terrorism?" he said.
Rohani added, "If they want to use planes and if they want to use unmanned planes so that nobody from the Americans is injured, is it really possible to fight terrorism without any hardship, without any sacrifice?"
IS militants have killed thousands of people in just the last few months of fighting in Syria and Iraq.
The Sunni extremist group has carried out atrocities against Shi'ite Muslims, non-Muslims, and at times Sunni tribesmen who have resisted the IS.
IS militants have also reportedly enslaved women they have captured with the UN saying last month it estimated IS had forced some 1,500 women, teenage girls and boys into sexual slavery and Amnesty International releasing information IS had abducted entire families in northern Iraq for sexual assault "and worse."
Although Rohani criticized the U.S. strategy for fighting the IS, the Iranian president said the extremist group must be stopped.
Rohani criticized the IS for executing two U.S. journalists and a British aid worker, saying the killings were against Islamic tenets.
"They [IS] want to kill humanity," Rohani said.
'Killing Of All Humanity'
Rohani told NBC, "From the viewpoint of Islamic tenets and culture, killing an innocent person equals the killing of all humanity" and "therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people in fact is a matter of shame for them and it's a matter of concern and sorrow for all humanity and all mankind."
The Iranian president said his country would continue its support for Iraq but he also warned, "We will not allow Baghdad to be occupied by terrorists or the religious sites such as Karbala or Najaf to be occupied by terrorists."
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was in the United States on September 17 and spoke at the Washington think tank the Council on Foreign Relations, warning IS militants could not be defeated solely through air strikes.
Zarif accused other, unspecified countries of helping make a "Frankenstein that has come to haunt its creators."
The Iranian Foreign Minister also expressed regret that Iran had not been invited to the September 15 conference in Paris where representatives of some 30 countries and organizations discussed ways to help Iraq defeat IS militants.
Syria, the other country where IS militants have been waging a genocidal campaign, also did not have any government representatives invited to the conference.
In a related story, the U.S. State Department announced Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman would lead a delegation traveling to New York for talks with Iranian officials.
A September 17 statement from the State Department said Senior Advisor Jacob Sullivan would also be in the U.S. delegation holding talks with Iranian representatives on September 17 and 18.
The statement said, "Following these bilateral meetings, Under Secretary Sherman will participate in the comprehensive nuclear negotiations of the P5+1 and European Union with Iran beginning September 18."
The meetings come as Iranian President Hassan Rohani prepares to arrive in New York for the annual UN General Assembly.
There has been speculation Rohani and U.S. President Barack Obama might meet briefly at the UN although officially both the United States and Iran are saying there are no plans for such a meeting.
Based on reporting by Reuters and NBC
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