USA TODAY: Iran is supplying Iraqi militias with a variety of powerful weapons including Katyusha rockets, the No. 2 U.S. general in Iraq said Tuesday.
By Jim Michaels
BAGHDAD Iran is supplying Iraqi militias with a variety of powerful weapons including Katyusha rockets, the No. 2 U.S. general in Iraq said Tuesday.
“We have weapons that we know through serial numbers that trace back to Iran,” Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said in an interview with USA TODAY.
His comments came as the Bush administration has been taking an increasingly tough stance against what it alleges is Iranian meddling in sectarian violence in Iraq. Last week, the White House confirmed that the president had authorized U.S. troops to take action against Iranian agents in Iraq who present threats.
On Tuesday, President Bush vowed to crack down on those who supply Iraqi insurgents with arms, though he denied any plans to invade Iran.
“We’ll deal with it by finding their supply chains and their agents and arresting them. In other words, we’re going to protect our troops,” Bush told ABC News.
Odierno did not provide further details on how weapons were linked to Iran. The Iranian government has denied providing weapons to Iraqi militias.
Most weapons supplied by Iran end up in the hands of Shiite extremists, Odierno said.
He said the weapons include:
The RPG-29, a rocket-propelled grenade that can fire armor-piercing rounds. It is larger and more sophisticated than the RPG-7 more commonly found in Iraq.
Katyusha rockets, so large they are generally fired from trucks.
Powerful roadside bombs, known as explosively formed projectiles, which can pierce armor. The technological know-how and “some of the elements to make them are coming out of Iran,” Odierno said.
Several Iranians have been detained in raids inside Iraq, and some remain in custody. The arrests have provided clues about Iranian operations, Odierno said.
“Every time you pick up individuals you learn about how they facilitate themselves within a country,” he said.
He did not specify whether the Iranians in custody are cooperating, or whether evidence was seized during the arrest.
Iran’s ambassador to Iraq told The New York Times this week that Iran was taking steps to expand military and economic ties with Iraq.