Iraq Dismisses US Claims about Iran’s Interference in Iraq

A00921755.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iraq said on Sunday it has no evidence that Iran was supplying militias engaged in fierce street fighting with security forces in Baghdad, and rejected US accusations against Tehran as mere “speculation”.

“We don’t want to be pushed into any conflict with any neighboring countries, especially Iran. What happened before is enough. We paid a lot,” Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Sunday.

He was alluding to former Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran .The US-backed war lasted for eight years and claimed the lives of more than one million people.

“It happened because the others pushed Iraq to take an aggressive stance with Iran. We want to organize relations with all neighboring countries to preserve the interests of Iraq.”

Asked about US reports that weapons captured from Shiite fighters bore 2008 markings suggesting Iranian involvement, Dabbagh said, “We don’t have that kind of evidence… If there is hard evidence we will defend the country.”

Al-Dabbagh added that a special Iraqi committee is formed “to document any intervention in Iraqi affairs”.

“The reason behind forming this committee is to find tangible information and not information based on speculation,” Dabbagh said referring to recent US allegations that Tehran is spreading violence in Iraq by distributing weapons and ammunitions to Iraqi anti-occupation fighters.

The Islamic republic categorically denies the claims, asking the US to provide it with any concrete evidence to back up its allegations.

Tehran maintains the root of violence in Iraq is the presence of the US forces in the war-torn country.

Al-Dabbagh’s comments came after a high-ranking Iraqi delegation traveled to Tehran last week to discuss Iraq’s latest developments.

US military spokesman Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll told reporters in the presence of Dabbagh that the Americans fully supported talks between Iran and Iraq on curbing the sectarian violence.

“We welcome all dialogue between Iran and Iraq,” Driscoll said, adding that they supported any platform that could lead to an end to violence and ensure stability in Iraq where the US has deployed over 158,000 troops.

Dabbagh said an Iraqi parliamentary delegation which visited Iran last week had held useful discussions and secured assurances of support.

“They talked frankly about the fears and concerns in Iraq,” he told reporters at a news conference in the tightly-guarded Green Zone of Baghdad where the Iraqi government and the US embassy are located.

He stressed that Iraq wanted closer relations with Iran. “What happened in the past is in the past,” he said referring to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Dabbagh said that Baghdad was keen to “reorganize” its relations with its Muslim neighbor, and that Tehran supported Baghdad government moves to curb violence.

“Iran supports the government and understands the need to eliminate all militia… and allow the rule of law,” Dabbagh said, adding that the Iraqi team which went to Iran had the blessing of the government but was not “official.”

Reports from Teheran on Sunday said Iran had warned Iraq against using excessive force on people in its crackdown against militias.

“We support the efforts of the Iraqi government to disarm the armed militia but we advise them not to confront the population,” an official source, who was not named, told ISNA in Tehran.

“The official position of the Islamic republic of Iran is to support the legal Iraqi government and we will do everything to ensure the security of the country,” added the source.

Meantime, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s wife, Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, escaped a roadside bomb attack in the heart of Baghdad on Sunday that wounded her four bodyguards, officials said.

The First Lady escaped unhurt as her convoy was hit by a roadside bomb while on her way to the National Theatre in central Baghdad’s Karrada district where she was to attend a cultural program, Talabani’s office said in a statement.

Her four bodyguards were wounded, officials said, adding that it appeared to be an indiscriminate attack in the tightly-guarded capital.

Ahmed is a daughter of well-known political activist Ibrahim Ahmed who was one of the founders of the Kurdish Democratic Party, a leading political group in northern Iraq.

Born in 1948, she graduated from Baghdad University and joined the peshmerga forces with Talabani whom she married in 1970. She is now a businesswoman, owns a media group called Kakh, and is a children’s rights activist.

Meanwhile, the US military said its troops killed 13 fighters in overnight clashes in Baghdad’s Sadr City, the stronghold of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The overnight clashes saw the military use tanks and air support in a series of exchanges with the militiamen in the district that is home to some two million people.

Witnesses said a nearby hospital suffered serious damage in the US strike that wounded 20 people.

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