News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIraq: Tehran is trying to sabotage anti-al-Qaeda groups, says...

Iraq: Tehran is trying to sabotage anti-al-Qaeda groups, says US military spokesman

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AKI: The US military claims to have proof that armed groups supported by Tehran are trying to sabotage Iraq’s US-backed Awakening Councils, the armed neighbourhood groups that have successfully driven al-Qaeda out of many districts of Baghdad and elsewhere. Adnkronos International

Baghdad, 3 March (AKI) – The US military claims to have proof that armed groups supported by Tehran are trying to sabotage Iraq’s US-backed Awakening Councils, the armed neighbourhood groups that have successfully driven al-Qaeda out of many districts of Baghdad and elsewhere.

In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), US military spokesman Adm Gregory Smith said that “the American military recently obtained confessions from detainees who are members of the Al-Quds Brigade and other Shia group who have been arrested in various parts of Iraq, who said that they were assigned to carry out armed operations to kill the leaders and the members of the Awakening Councils, in order to destroy this experiment.”

Smith said that “the American forces have arrested 14 Iranians who represented a danger to the security of Iraq,” without giving any other details.

The head of Iraqi intelligence, Muhammad Abdallah al-Shahwani declared a few days ago that elements of Iranian secret services planned to sabotage the Awakening Council project.

Al-Shahwani urged the Iraqi security apparatus to “follow suspicious activities and to collect all the information and clues provided by citizens, treating this with total secrecy and professionally in the interest of the country.”

The US forces began arming Sunni tribes in the province of al-Anbar last year, creating the Awakening Councils, which were aimed at hunting down and driving out al-Qaeda members.

Smith’s comments come as Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is on an historic visit to Iraq, the first-ever visit to Iraq by an Iranian president.

On Monday, Ahmadinejad called the presence of foreign troops in Iraq a humiliation and an insult to the region. He did not mention the United States by name but America still has more than 150,000 soldiers based in Iraq, nearly five years after it led the 2003 invasion that led to the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The Iranian leader called for the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops.

He also accused the US of bringing terrorism to the region.

During his two day visit, Ahmadinejad also signed a number of co-operation agreements on trade and transport with his raqi counterpart, Jalal Talabani.

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