TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said "enemies” are trying to drive a wedge between Tehran and Baghdad in a tweet Monday following deadly unrest in neighboring Iraq.
"Iran and Iraq are two nations whose hearts & souls are tied together through faith in God, love for Imam Hussein and the progeny of the Prophet (PBUH). This bond will grow stronger day by day," the Leader's official Twitter account cited Ayatollah Khamenei as saying.
"Enemies seek to sow discord but they’ve failed and their conspiracy won’t be effective," the tweet added.
The Leader's remarks come as millions of pilgrims from Iraq, Iran and around the world are preparing to travel to the holy Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala to attend Arba'een, marking the 40th day after the martyrdom of the third Shia Imam, Hussein ibn Ali (AS).
The gathering usually attracts more than 20 million participants every year.
Iraqis take pride in hosting pilgrims participating in Arba'een, many of whom are from Iran. The event has consequently turned into a symbol of unity between the people of the two countries.
Ayatollah Khamenei’s message came in the wake of recent unrest in some Iraqi cities. The Iraqi authorities have accused "saboteurs” and unidentified snipers of targeting the protesters.
Last week, Iran shut the Khosravi border crossing with Iraq at the request of Iraqi authorities as the protests raged. The post was reopened on Monday morning and Iranians were making their way towards holy shrines in Iraq, an official said in a report by ISNA news agency.
Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the coordinating deputy of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, said all crossings to Iraq are fully secure and ready to accommodate pilgrims.
He told reporters that Iran's armed forces maintain the highest levels of readiness at the border and that pilgrims will be provided with all services as before.
A top military adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei also said those behind the unrest in Iraq would be unable to deter Iranian pilgrims.
"They want to scare people into not going to Arba’een, but even if it rains arrows and stones, Hussein’s lovers will not be afraid,” Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.
Iranians are heading to the Iraqi holy city of Karbala for the pilgrimage that will culminate on October 17 with the annual Arba’een commemoration.
Arba’een is one of the world’s biggest religious festivals and marks the end of the 40-day mourning period for the seventh-century martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) by the forces of the Caliph Yazid.
On Monday, Iran’s Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said the Islamic Republic will continue to maintain close ties with Iraq, adding the enemies can never break apart the strong bonds between the two neighbors.
Ali Rabiei told reporters in Tehran that Iran stands in solidarity with Iraq in the wake of the ongoing unrest in the Arab country.
"Over the past few days and while the Iraqi government and nation are preparing to host the world's biggest cultural and religious event and the region is moving towards peace and stability, we have witnessed disturbing incidents during which some people have lost their lives," Rabiei said.
The spokesman called on all Iraqi sides to exercise restraint. "Iran will always stand by the Iraqi nation and the Iraqi government. We are calling on them to preserve unity and to show restraint," Rabiei said.
He said violence is not the way and all parties involved in the current situation should help find a "democratic" solution to the issue.
"The Iraqi people should pursue their demands but at the same time keep an eye out for malevolent forces that look to exploit the protests and not let them to" achieve their goals, Rabiei said.
Rabiei also said the best way to overcome the current situation is to follow the religious leadership.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran, as always, expresses readiness to stand next to the Iraqi brothers and sisters and help them," he said, adding "no ill-intended, fake propaganda can break the Iraqi and Iranian nations apart."