DUBAI The general in charge of Iran's paramilitary activities in the Middle East said the United States and other powers were failing to confront Islamic State, and only Iran was committed to the task, a news agency on Monday reported.
Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force responsible for protecting the Islamic Republic's interests abroad, has become a familiar face on the battlefields of Iraq, where he often outranks local commanders.
"Today, in the fight against this dangerous phenomenon, nobody is present except Iran," the Tasnim news agency quoted Soleimani as saying on Sunday in reference to Islamic State.
Iran should help countries suffering at the hands of Islamic State, said Soleimani, whose force is part of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Mehr news agency reported.
The Sunni militant group has taken key cities in Iraq and Syria in the past week, routing regular forces in both countries with apparent ease.
"Obama has not done a damn thing so far to confront Daesh: doesn't that show that there is no will in America to confront it?" Mehr quoted Soleimani as saying, using a derogatory Arabic term for Islamic State.
"How is it that America claims to be protecting the Iraqi government, when a few kilometres away in Ramadi killings and war crimes are taking place and they are doing nothing?"
The Obama administration has led air strikes against the group and provided assistance to the Iraqi army. Some U.S. Republicans have called for ground troops to be deployed.
Islamic State, which emerged last year in the anarchic Sunni heartlands straddling Syria and Iraq, routinely executes prisoners, enslaves captives and destroys historic sites.
Iranian officials frequently cite such actions as a justification for their support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces have also carried out mass killings since the beginning of an initially peaceful popular uprising in 2011.
"We should immunise our borders against this great evil and we should help those countries that are suffering under Daesh," Soleimani was quoted as saying by Mehr in a speech to former and serving members of the IRGC in Kerman city.
(Reporting by Sam Wilkin and Parisa Hafezi; Editing by William Maclean and John Stonestreet)