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Iranian Foreign Minister Says Iranian Troops Are Not In Iraq

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Tehran sees no need to send troops into Iraq to help fight against the Islamic State (IS) militia.

Zarif said after meeting in Baghdad on August 24 with Iraq's Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi that Iran does not have any troops in Iraq and would support Baghdad in its battle in ways other than deploying troops.

Zarif and Abadi discussed the need for international efforts against the former Al-Qaeda splinter group, which has taken over territory across western and northern Iraq as well as in Syria.

Their talks came as Iraqi security forces backed by U.S. aircraft fought a renewed militant push towards a major oil refinery in northern Iraqi city of Baiji.

Shi'ite-dominated Iran was a longtime supporter of Iraq's outgoing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki but now supports Abadi.

Meanwhile, a monitoring group says IS militants have seized large parts of a major Syrian military airbase in the province of Raqqa.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on August 24 that there were still clashes taking place on the outskirts of the Tabqa airbase but that the facility was under IS control.

The group said the bodies of "dozens" of soldiers were inside the facility.

The Tabqa airbase was the last government-held outpost in the northeastern province, dominated by the extremist group.

The Observatory said at least 100 militants have been killed and 300 wounded since the IS launched an offensive on August 19 to seize Tabqa.

Some 25 Syrian soldiers and allied paramilitary troops have also died in the fighting, the group said.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, AP, and Reuters

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