WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) — Iran’s role in fomenting violence in Iraq is greater than the U.S. military understood even a month ago, Gen. David Petraeus said Thursday.
Iraqi Shiite militia members — a secret cell of the Jaysh al-Mahdi, which is loyal to cleric Muqtada Sadr — have received funding, advanced explosives and training on Iranian soil, and “in some cases advice and … even a degree of direction,” Petraeus, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, said.
“There’s no question … that Iranian financing is taking place through the Quds force of the Iranian Republican Guards Corps,” he said.
The U.S. military is holding the leaders of the Khazali cell that in January attacked a U.S. Army team in Karbala, kidnapping four and killing five.
“The Iranian involvement has really become much clearer to us and brought into much more focus during the interrogation of … the heads of the Khazali network, and some of the key members of that network that have been in detention now for a month or more,”
“We think that records are kept so that the individuals that carry out these attacks can demonstrate what they’re doing to those who are providing the resources to them, providing the additional funding, training, arms, ammunition, advanced technologies and so forth,” Petraeus said.
However, Petraeus said there was no evidence of a direct link between Iran and the Karbala operation. “I can’t say it wasn’t there either, but we did not find, if you will, a direct fingerprint to it,” he said.