Petraeus Says Iran Arming Militants
Tuesday, Mar. 13, 2007 By AP
(NEW YORK) — The top U.S. commander in Iraq said in an interview released Monday that it's "indisputable" Iran is training and arming militants to fight against U.S.-led troops in Iraq.
Gen. David Petraeus also told ABC News that suicide bombers are streaming across Iraq's border from Syria and making their way into the country's volatile western Anbar province.
His comments follow a harsh exchange of words over the weekend between the U.S. and Iran at a conference in Baghdad on Iraq's security. The U.S. envoy to the talks, David Satterfield, said he had evidence that Iran was arming Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq, which his Iranian counterpart, Abbas Araghchi, vehemently denied. He called such accusations a "cover" for U.S. failures in Iraq.
At the conference, both Iran and Syria pledged to support moves to stabilize Iraq, including reconciliation among Iraq's factions. But U.S. and Iraqi leaders have questioned Iran's commitment to backing such American-led efforts.
In the interview with ABC, Petraeus said cooperation from Iran and Syria would be key to stopping the violence in Iraq.
He said there are elements of Iran's Revolutionary Guards elite Quds Force that are training fighters and sending them into Iraq to fight U.S.-led forces. He said Iran is also sending "rockets, mortars and other explosives and munitions" into the country.
"That's indisputable and again it's a very, very problematic situation four our soldiers and Iraqi soldiers," he told ABC.
"And if it's something that can be brought to a halt through these initiatives of the Iraqi government, we would applaud that vigorously," he said, referring to the talks in Baghdad aimed at bringing security to the country