AFP: British Defence Secretary John Reid issued a new warning to Iran and the militant group Hezbollah on Thursday over a
recent series of bomb attacks on British troops in Iraq. AFP
LYNEHAM, England – British Defence Secretary John Reid issued a new warning to Iran and the militant group Hezbollah on Thursday over a recent series of bomb attacks on British troops in Iraq.
“The nature of these leads us to believe that they are associated or originating with Hezbollah — Hezbollah, associated with, supported by the Iranians,” he told reporters at Lyneham airbase in southwest England.
“That is not acceptable, it is not something we can tolerate,” Reid said, and he underlined that British troops would vigorously defend themselves.
“Anyone who is involved in this sort of thing is involved in a risky game,” he said at a press conference during a meeting of European Union defence ministers.
But Reid stopped short of implicating the Iranian government.
“We believe that there are elements of Iranian society,” he said. “I have no evidence that would be conclusive that the government of Iran is involved in this.”
On Wednesday, The Sun newspaper cited a military source in Basra, southern Iraq, where the bulk of Britain’s 8,000 or so troops are based, as saying Iran-linked roadside bombs had already killed eight British soldiers.
“There is evidence the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is running training packages for insurgents,” the source said.
“They are in the form of ‘train the trainer’. Up to 10 people at a time are being taught how to make these new devices. They return to Iraq and pass it onto another 50.”
A week ago, a senior British official, briefing reporters anonymously, had said that Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard had supplied weapons technology to insurgents in neighbouring Iraq.
The official said it was possible Iran was trying to warn off London over its demands Tehran abandon its controversial nuclear programme.
“It would be entirely natural that they would want to send a message: ‘Don’t mess with us,'” he said.
Iran totally rejects the suspicions.