U.S. General David Petraeus accuses Iran of fueling war in Iraq

Sunday, October 7, 2007

General Petraeus speaking at the Pentagon in 2007.

General David Petraeus, the top United States military commander in Iraq, said on Saturday that Iran continues to arm militias in Iraq. Petraeus also accused Iran's ambassador Hassan Kazemi-Qomi of being a member of the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Republican Guard which the U.S. believes backs foreign Islamic revolutionary movements.

Speaking to journalists at a U.S. military base near the Iran-Iraq border, Petraeus said "There should be no question about the malign, lethal involvement and activities of the Quds Force in this country." He added that Iran was "responsible for providing the weapons, the training, the funding and in some cases the direction for operations that have indeed killed US soldiers".

Regarding specific weaponry, Petraeus said "There's no question, absolutely no question that Iran is providing advanced RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades]." "It has provided some shoulder-fired, Stinger-like air-defense missiles. It has provided the explosively formed projectiles and it has provided 244 mm rockets, in addition to mortars, mortar rounds and other small-arms ammunition."

General Petraeus also said that Iran's ambassador Hassan Kazemi-Qomi was a "Quds Force member". The Quds Force is an elite unit of Iran's Republican Guard which the U.S. believes backs foreign Islamic revolutionary movements, including groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran acknowledges the existence of the Quds Force, but does not disclose the details of its activities. "[Qomi] has diplomatic immunity and therefore he is obviously not subject [to scrutiny]," Petraeus added.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini dismissed the charges on Sunday. Paraphrasing Hosseini's comments, the Islamic Republic News Agency said the charges "were nothing new and that they were in continuation of the past baseless accusations against the Islamic Republic of Iran."

According to BBC News, "Some analysts believe the U.S. is deliberately ramping up the rhetoric against the Iranian authorities to prepare public opinion for possible military strikes against Revolutionary Guard facilities within Iran."