News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqUS says Iran-trained militia leader held in Iraq

US says Iran-trained militia leader held in Iraq

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ImageAFP: US troops captured an Iranian-trained militia leader and five militiamen southeast of Baghdad on Tuesday, the American military said in a statement.

ImageBAGHDAD (AFP) — US troops captured an Iranian-trained militia leader and five militiamen southeast of Baghdad on Tuesday, the American military said in a statement.

"Coalition forces captured a suspected Special Groups leader and five of his associates Tuesday in Kut," the military said, referring to militiamen it says are trained by Iranian groups.

It did not name the suspects but said the group's leader was the "top criminal" in Kut, 175 kilometres (109 miles) southeast of Baghdad, and was allegedly involved in murdering Iraqis and attacking US troops.

It said the men surrendered without offering resistance.

The US military accuses members of the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, of training and arming Shiite militia in Iraq to carry out attacks against US and Iraqi security forces. Tehran denies the charges.

Late March, around 40 Shiite militiamen were killed in Kut during an operation launched by Iraq's security forces against what it described as illegal gunmen.

The operation was part of a countrywide crackdown on Shiite militiamen ordered by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The US military as well as the Iraqi authorities have reported a sharp decline in violence last month across the country.

May saw the lowest monthly US military losses since the March 2003 invasion, with 19 soldiers killed compared to a high of 137 in November 2004. Iraqi civilian and security force deaths dropped drastically by 50 percent last month to 563.

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