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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 don’t know why precisely,” he added. “There was an increase clearly of that weapon and now they’ve 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 don’t think that the level of training has been reduced at all. We don’t believe that the level of financing has been reduced. It’s uncertain again what is happening in Iran that’s leading to that occurrence.”

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





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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