BAGHDAD, Iraq — High-tech roadside bombs that have proved particularly deadly to American soldiers are manufactured in Iran and delivered to Iraq on orders from the “highest levels” of the Iranian government, a senior intelligence officer said Sunday.
The officer, briefing reporters on condition he not be further identified, said that between June 2004 and last week, more than 170 Americans had been killed by the bombs, which the military calls “explosively formed projectiles.”
Those weapons are capable of destroying an Abrams tank.
The officer said American intelligence analysts believe the EFPs are manufactured in Iran and smuggled into Iraq on orders from the top of the Iranian government. He did not elaborate.
U.S. officials have alleged for years that weapons were entering the country from Iran but had stopped short of alleging involvement by top Iranian leaders.
The U.S. officer said Iran was working through surrogates _ mainly “rogue elements” of the Shiite Mahdi Army _ to smuggle the EFPs into Iraq. He said most of the components are entering Iraq near Amarah, the Iranian border city of Meran, and the Basra area of southern Iraq.
The U.S. officer said American authorities had briefed Iraq’s Shiite-led government on Iran’s involvement and Iraqi officials had asked the Iranians to stop. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, has said he told both the U.S. and Iran that he does not want his country turned into a proxy battlefield.
Al-Maliki, who has been reluctant to crack down on the Mahdi Army, largely because he does not want to lose the support of its leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, said Iraqi security forces would deploy in force this week as part of a U.S.-backed security sweep aimed at stopping the violence in Baghdad.
“The new security plan will not start from a specific area, but it will start from all areas and at the same time and those who will take part in it are from all formations of the army and police,” he said earlier in the day. The Iraqi leader has faced criticism that delays in starting the operation have allowed attacks that have killed hundreds over the past few weeks.
In Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, a suicide truck bomber slammed into a crowd of police lining up for duty Sunday near Tikrit, collapsing the station and killing at least 30 people and wounding 50, police said.
Minutes later, a roadside bomb struck a car on a highway on Tikrit’s western outskirts, killing two civilians and wounding two others, police said.
Residents who rushed to the scene of the first bombing tried to help with rescue efforts before civil defense squads arrived with shovels to remove the debris and pull out the dead and those injured. U.S. and Iraqi forces later surrounded the area.