US Iran support for Iraqi militias grows

Press TV
Saturday, April 12, 2008

The US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has renewed allegations against Iran, claiming that Tehran's support for militias in Iraq has grown.

"I think that there is some sense of an increased level of supply of (Iranian) weapons and support to these groups," Gates claimed after a series of hearings on Capitol Hill on Friday.

"But whether it's a dramatic increase over recent weeks, I just don't know," AP quoted Gates as saying.

Asked what would be the response to the issue, Gates said the US will be as aggressive as possible to counter the increase in the Iranian activity in Iraq.

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Gates and the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, repeated the same allegations made by the top US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, claiming that Iran was behind clashes between the Iraqi security forces and Shiite militias in Basra in late March.

"I think the Iraqi government now has a clearer view of the malign impact of Iran's activities inside Iraq…I think they have had what I would call a growing understanding of that negative Iranian role. But I think what they encountered in Basra was a real eye-opener for them."

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly voiced its support for the government in Baghdad, maintaining that the entire region would benefit from a secure Iraq. Iran blames the presence of US troops for the bloodshed.

Reiterating Iran's continual efforts to contribuite to Iraq's security and stability, the seior Iranian cleric, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjni, said in Tehran's Friday prayer yesterday that his country had nothing to gain from instability and unrest in Iraq and was doing everything in its power to bring calm to the country.

Early in March, Iran's President Ahmadinejad had said after a meeing with head of the United Iraq Coalitin, Abdel Aziz Hakim, “Six years ago, there were no terrorists in our region. It was after the presence of foreign forces in the region that terrorism emerged as a regional problem.”

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