AFP: US soldiers have already been targeted in the first two weeks of January by as many suspected Iranian explosives as in all of December, the US defense chief said Friday. CHARLESTON, South Carolina (AFP) US soldiers have already been targeted in the first two weeks of January by as many suspected Iranian explosives as in all of December, the US defense chief said Friday.
“During the first half of January there were as many IEDs (improvised explosive devices) as there were in all of December,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters aboard a plane after a visit in Charleston, South Carolina.
Gates’ military adviser, Peter Chiarelli, said later the secretary was actually referring to explosively formed penetrators (EFPs), which US officials say Iran has been supplying to insurgents in Iraq.
General David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in Iraq, said Wednesday that EFP attacks had dropped in recent months but increased at the start of January.
“The signature attacks that employ Iranian-provided weapons have decreased substantially,” he told a small group of reporters accompanying him on his visit to the Iraq-Iran border post at Zurbitiyah.
“The EFPs (explosively formed penetrators) had been running at a low level until about the first 10 to 12 days of this month, when we saw a noticeable increase but, in the last several days they have gone down again,” he said.
US officials observed a steady reduction in the use of Iranian explosives between October and November, which they believed showed a possible reduction of weapons being sent from Iraq’s neighbor.