Tehran — Iranian aid convoys are awaiting an entry permit from the government in Baghdad to distribute humanitarian aid among suffering Christian communities in the north of the country.
This was reported to Iranian news agencies by the Christian parliamentarian Yonatan Betkolia, representative of the Assyrian and Chaldean communities.
Betkolia added that Iran has already sent humanitarian aid to religious minorities brutalized by the militia of the Islamic State group. Now convoys with food, tents, clothing, and medical and health care for Christians who have taken refuge in Erbil and other areas of Iraqi Kurdistan are ready to leave. Iranian officials operating in the area, said Betkolia, have already contacted local Christian communities to coordinate the distribution of aid.
Before Christmas, the Iranian ambassador in Amman, Mojtaba Ferdowsjpou, visited Archbishop Maroun Lahham, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Iranian diplomat, on that occasion, reiterated that "the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to assist the Christians of Iraq and Syria in order to alleviate their suffering and their sorrows."
"Iran has undoubtedly taken a crucial role in the Middle East," Archbishop Lahham told Agenzia Fides. "It is in permanent contact with the Holy See, with which it shares very important dialogues. We hope that the contribution of Iran has a positive effect in the search for solutions to crises that affect the people of Iraq and Syria."
Predominantly Shiite Iran says it has sent military advisers to assist Syria and Iraq in battling extremist groups, but has denied sending combat forces, according to the Associated Press. Iran says it has played a key role in pushing back the Islamic State group following the extremists’ summer blitz across northern and western Iraq. But Tehran insists its officers are only providing military advice and training.