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British Official Warns Iran Not to Meddle in Iraq

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2005 – Iran shouldn't meddle in Iraqi affairs, Great Britain's top defense official said here today.

Appearing at a Pentagon news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, British Secretary of State for Defense John Reid was asked by a reporter if he was concerned about reports of Iranian-sponsored interference in Iraq, specifically that Iran-based elements were actively aiding insurgent forces.

Reid said there's no evidence at present that Iran-based terror groups are responsible for improvised-explosive device-attacks on British forces serving in Iraq.

However, Reid added, "It is our belief that the nature of the devices being used against British troops and possibly elsewhere in Iraq in recent months bear the hallmark of groups like Hezbollah and may well be connected with elements within Iran."

Hezbollah, called "Party of God" by its adherents, was established in Lebanon in 1982. Hezbollah employs terror tactics and is known to receive support from Iran. Hezbollah is blamed for the 1983 bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut, Lebanon.

Reid said his government has informed the Iranians about its concerns that Iranian-based groups may be committing acts of terrorism against British forces in Iraq.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has also cited Iran for being disingenuous concerning its nuclear capabilities, Reid said.

Countries that share a border with Iraq, including Syria and Iran, should not sponsor terrorist operations inside Iraq or anywhere else, Reid said.

Meanwhile, the British government will take necessary steps to protect its troops serving in Iraq, Reid said.

Rumsfeld told reporters that U.S., other coalition and Iraqi security forces are now engaged against insurgents operating in western Iraq near the Syrian border. Suspected insurgents are being captured and killed, he said, and enemy weapons caches are being found thanks to the help of local Iraqis.

That offensive, Operation Steel Curtain, will likely prove unhelpful to the insurgency and its operations within the border region between Iraq and Syria, Rumsfeld said.

"We hope that anyone on the borders with Iraq -- whether it is Syria, Iran or anyone else -- will desist and make sure that no one is supporting terrorism inside Iraq or, indeed, anywhere else," Reid added.

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Donald H. Rumsfeld
John Reid

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