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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, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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