AP: An Iranian detained by U.S. forces at the Baghdad airport has been released, the Iraqi government said Saturday.
The Associated Press
By SAMEER N. YACOUB
BAGHDAD (AP) — An Iranian detained by U.S. forces at the Baghdad airport has been released, the Iraqi government said Saturday.
The U.S. military said earlier this week that it suspected the man was a senior member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' elite Quds force, which it suspects of funneling weapons into Iraq.
But Deputy Foreign Minister Labid Abbawi said the Iranian was released Friday.
"We contacted the Americans and asked them to release him because his presence in Iraq is legitimate," Abbawi said.
The U.S. military declined to comment on the release, referring questions to the Iraqi government.
In an earlier statement, it said the Iranian was using a job building and repairing religious sites in Iraq as cover to smuggle weapons into Iraq. He was detained Tuesday at the Baghdad International Airport while trying to leave the country, according to the statement.
The U.S. has long accused Iran of training and arming Shiite extremist groups in Iraq and fueling the insurgency. Tehran denies the charges.
The detentions of Iranians are among many points of tension between Washington and Tehran in Iraq, where Iran holds significant influence over Shiite groups and is suspected of aiding Shiite militias.