TEHRAN, June 18 (UPI) -- Shiite religious shrines in Iraq will be protected and defended from Sunni militants fighting the government, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday.
Speaking on Iranian television, Rouhani claimed Iranians of various religious sects were willing to "put the terrorists in their place." Later, addressing a crowd in western Iran, Rouhani said:
"Regarding the holy Shia shrines in Karbala, Najaf, Kadhimiya and Samarra, we announce to the killers and terrorists that the big Iranian nation will not hesitate to protect holy shrines. These terrorist groups, and those that fund them, both in the region and in the international arena, are nothing, and hopefully they will be put in their own place."
Rouhani offered similar comments on his Twitter account, writing, "Iranian nation will protect Iraq's holy shrines & they aren't alone. Iraq's Sunnis, Shias & Kurds all ready to defeat terrorism solidarity."
The United States and Iran, whose geopolitics are rarely in agreement, each have an interest in containing the uprising from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Both have indicated a willingness to cooperate to see the Iraqi government preserved.
After the swift movement of ISIS militants across Iraq, capturing cities and oil refineries, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview the United States was "open to discussions if there's something constructive that can be contributed by Iran."