Security of Arbaeen pilgrims a priority for Iran: Official

Tasnim – An Iranian deputy interior minister highlighted the importance the country attaches to the security of its citizens travelling to Iraq for the Arbaeen pilgrimage, saying Tehran and Baghdad should work in close cooperation to counter all potential threats.

In a meeting with Iraq’s defense minister, Iranian Deputy Interior Minister for Security Affairs Hossein Zolfaqari hailed the measures the two neighbors have taken to facilitate travels to Iraq for Arbaeen.

The security of pilgrims is significant to the Iranian government, he added, saying the Iraqi Defense Ministry could play an influential role to ensure their security.

He also stressed that the two countries should maintain vigilance to foil any potential threat during the religious event.

Zolfaqari further voiced Iran’s readiness to dispatch its Red Crescent Society’s helicopters to Iraq upon permission from the Baghdad government.

In mid-September, the Iraqi embassy and consulates in Iran started to issue visas for Iranian applicants intending to visit the Arab country for Arbaeen pilgrimage

More than 2.4 million Iranians traveled to Iraq in 2016 for Arbaeen, a major Shiite occasion marking the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS).

Officials predict that the number of Iranian visitors would hit 3 million this year.

Each year, a huge crowd of Shiites flock to the Iraqi city of Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) is located, to perform mourning rites on Arbaeen.