Volume. 12231

73 Iranian pilgrims trapped by ISIL return home
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TEHRAN – Director General of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Mohsen Nezafati said on Wednesday that 73 Iranian pilgrims, who were under the siege of ISIL in Samarra for ten days, have been returned home safely.
He said that the pilgrims were gotten out of the siege and returned home through actions taken by the Iraqi Army and security forces.
Fortunately, Iranian and Iraqi officials closely cooperated with each other in this respect and the pilgrims exited Samarra by air and were returned the country, he stated.
He went on to say that currently there is no Iranian pilgrim in shrine cities in Iraq, adding that the 73 pilgrims’ trip was not arranged by the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization.
Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have captured several areas in northern and western Iraq over the past two weeks, and are threatening to dismember Iraq and unleash all-out sectarian warfare with no regard for national borders.
The ISIL militants have vowed to continue their military offensive until they reach Baghdad, but Iraqi forces and around 1.5 million volunteers have succeeded in halting the terrorists’ advance and pushing the militants back in some areas.  

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