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U.S. Says Iran Continues To Support Iraqi Shiite Fighters

Published: January 22, 2008 (Issue # 1341)


BAGHDAD, Iraq The U.S. military worried Sunday about mixed messages from Iran, listing a dramatic drop in Iranian-made weapons reaching Iraq but no reduction in the training and financing of Shiite militants.

The report card further muddles U.S.-Iranian relations, as Washington ratchets up its anti-Tehran rhetoric in the shadow of a recent intelligence report that the Islamic Republic halted a nuclear weapons program four years ago.

A second suicide bombing in two days, meanwhile, killed six people in Anbar province, birthplace of the Sunni movement against al-Qaida in Iraq that has been a major factor in a recent downturn in nationwide violence.

The apparent target near Fallujah was a U.S.-backed Sunni tribal sheik who escaped harm, but the bombing reflected the difficulty in routing insurgents led by al-Qaida in Iraq even in areas where the military has made major gains.

Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said attacks using powerful Iranian-made bombs known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, have fallen off in recent days after a sharp but brief increase in the first half of the month.

Late last year, the military said the flow of EFPs into Iraq had slowed, but General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander, said last week that attacks with the weapons had risen by a factor of two or three in the first half of this month.

Smith said the increase fell off again last week.

The number of signature weapons that had come from Iran and had been used against coalition and Iraqi forces are down dramatically except for this short uptick in the EFPs in the early part of January, Smith said at a news conference.

There was an increase, we dont know why precisely, he added. There was an increase clearly of that weapon and now theyve returned to normal levels.

Smith said the U.S. is trying to understand the various ways in which Iran exerts influence inside Iraq, including the training and financial support of militias, as well as the smuggling of weapons.

We dont think that the level of training has been reduced at all. We dont believe that the level of financing has been reduced. Its uncertain again what is happening in Iran thats leading to that occurrence.

The remarks were the latest in the verbal sparring between the two rival countries.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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