Iran's president says the country deserves credit for hindering Islamic State (IS) militants and keeping the radical group from seizing control of Syria and Iraq in their entirety.
Hassan Rohani made his comments April 23 in Tehran at a United Nations-sponsored event.
The IS group evolved in part from the remnants of Al-Qaeda’s network in Iraq after it was defeated by U.S. forces.
The extremist Sunni group has slaughtered those groups it believes violate its strict interpretation of Islam, including Shi’a, who it considers to be apostates.
If it wasn’t for Iran, Rohani said, “[Islamic State militants] would have triumphed both over Damascus and Baghdad.”
“Today we wouldn't be facing a small terrorist group; our region and our world would have faced two countries and two states governed by terrorists. Then what would Paris and Belgium do? Then what would New York do?" he asked.
In Syria’s civil war, Iran has aggressively backed the central government, which is dominated by a variation of Shi’a Islam, as well as Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated leadership.