AFP: The United States accused Iran Thursday of being a major destabilizing force in Iraq, accusing Tehran of training and arming insurgent groups and using “surrogates” to carry out terrorist strikes. WASHINGTON, June 22, 2006 (AFP) – The United States accused Iran Thursday of being a major destabilizing force in Iraq, accusing Tehran of training and arming insurgent groups and using “surrogates” to carry out terrorist strikes.
“It’s decidedy unhelpful,” the top US commander in Iraq, General George Casey, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference with US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Casey said that he had no evidence of Iranians actually in Iraq directing attacks against Iraqis or US forces, but said that he assumed elements in Tehran were guiding the process.
“We are quite confident that the Iranians, through their covert special operations forces, are providing weapons, IED technology and training to Shi’a extremist groups in Iraq, the training being conducted in Iran and in some cases probably in Lebanon through their surrogates,” he said.
“They are using surrogates to conduct terrorist operations in Iraq both against us and against the Iraqi people,” he said.
Improvised Explosive Devices like road-side bombs are among the most commonly used methods to attack US forces in Iraq.
Asked whether he believed that Iranians were directing attacks, Casey replied: “I have no evidence that there are Iranians in Iraq that are actually directing attacks.
“They are providing the materiel to Shia extremist groups that operate as their surrogates,” he said. “There are some indications that Lebanese Hezbollah is also used in some of the training functions for the Iranians.”