AFP: The US military in Iraq said Sunday it had seized sophisticated Iranian-made surface-to-air missiles that were being used by insurgents in the war-torn country. BAGHDAD (AFP) The US military in Iraq said Sunday it had seized sophisticated Iranian-made surface-to-air missiles that were being used by insurgents in the war-torn country.
Several Misagh-1s have been found in different locations, the military said, although it stopped short of saying the use of the weapons represented an escalation of Iranian activity in Iraq.
“We’ve said that we’ve found these things, we’ve seen them employed. That’s significant in it’s own right,” US military spokesman Rear Admiral Mark Fox told reporters in Baghdad.
The remarks came amid heightened tension between Tehran and Washington after US forces detained Iranian national Mahmudi Farhadi in northern Iraq last week, prompting Iran to close it border with the Kurdish autonomous region.
The US military charges that Farhadi is an officer in the covert operations arm of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, accused by American commanders of helping Shiite militias involved in Iraq’s bloody sectarian conflict.
Fox dismissed statements from both Iran and the Iraqi authorities that Farhadi was an innocent civilian who had been visiting with official consent.
“I find it hard to believe that they would close the border for a businessman,” he said.
“Any time you have activity of weapons-smuggling and people who have been trained to attack Iraqi security forces and coalition forces and Iraqi people … we are compelled by our professional obligation to take action on that.”
US commanders accuse Farhadi, detained 10 days ago in the northern province of Sulaimaniyah, of being one of the kingpins in bomb smuggling operations.
The military spokesman played down any political aspect in the arrest.
“We are not looking to try to over-hype this or enflame the situation; we are playing it exactly straight,” he said.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has charged that the US military ignored the authority of the Kurdish regional government in detaining Farhadi and has demanded the Iranian’s immediate release.