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Gen. Odierno: Iran-backed 'special groups' targeting U.S. forces in Iraq


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ba.aspGeoStrategy Direct:


The U.S. military commander in Iraq has again identified Iran as a major threat to Iraq through its funding and arming of terrorist groups there.

Army Gen. Raymond Odierno told reporters on July 21 that Iranian-backed “special groups” in Iraq remain a threat to U.S. forces.


Odierno said it’s difficult to link the groups directly to the Iranian government, “but what we do know is that many of them live in Iran, many of them get trained in Iran and many of them get weapons from Iran.”


“And they get them from various sources, and it's difficult sometimes to track the exact chain of command; it's difficult to track the funding. But it's clearly being done inside of Iran,” he said.


Odierno noted that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force is the main unit behind training and funding of the terrorist groups. He mentioned one group in particular, the Kata'ib Hizbullah, that is believed to be plotting specific attacks on U.S. forces.


The group has attacked Iraqi security forces as well with the aim of producing instability and fomenting a lack of confidence in the Iraqi government, he said.


“We've been working very closely with the Iraqi security forces to target these elements,” Odierno said.


In Washington, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said the comments show that Iran poses a direct threat to U.S. security.


The general’s comments follow statements by U.S. Central Command commander Gen. David Petraeus, who said in March that Iran is directly backing Al Qaida.


“The generals' accounts of the situation on the ground make it clear that the Iranian threat is not merely something that may materialize a few years from now,” Franks said. “Iran is a problem right now and is, at this moment, training, funding, and providing weapons for groups that are maiming and killing our young men and women in Iraq. These revelations make all the more odious President Obama's spineless refusal to confront Iran with anything more substantive than flowery speeches."


"No wonder the radical leaders of Iran hold in derision Mr. Obama's hollow warnings against their pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Franks said.


Odierno stated that the Iranians are primarily focusing on three extremist groups: Kata'ib Hizbullah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous), and the Promise Day Brigade.


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