Reuters: Iraqi and U.S. troops detained a militant leader suspected of ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in a raid in Baghdad on Saturday in which five gunmen were killed in an air strike, the U.S. military said. BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi and U.S. troops detained a militant leader suspected of ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in a raid in Baghdad on Saturday in which five gunmen were killed in an air strike, the U.S. military said.
The military, which has long accused Iran of supporting Shi’ite militias in Iraq, said the raid took place in Sadr City, the sprawling slum that is a stronghold of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia.
Residents of neighboring districts were awoken by the predawn raid in which dozens of blasts were heard.
“The individual detained … is believed to be the suspected leader in a secret cell terrorist network for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training,” the U.S. military said.
U.S. military commanders in Iraq say Iran is supplying militants with EFPs, a particularly deadly type of roadside bomb that can destroy an Abrams battle tank. Iran denies the charges.
The raid came two days before U.S. and Iranian officials are due to hold rare talks in Baghdad on Iraq’s violence, and a day after Sadr appeared in public after a months-long absence. He called on his Mehdi Army to stop fighting Iraqi soldiers.
The U.S. military said the man detained in the raid was “suspected of … acting as a proxy for an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps officer”.
It said gunmen in nine vehicles tried to ambush U.S. and Iraqi troops as they began withdrawing from the area. An air strike was called in and five of the gunmen were killed.
Residents and police in the area said the vehicles hit had been queuing at a petrol station.