Iranian bombs have killed 170 Iraq coalition troops: US
by Dave Clark
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Sophisticated Iranian-built bombs smuggled into Iraq have killed at least 170 US and allied soldiers since June 2004 and wounded 620 more, senior US defence officials have said.
The allegation, made Sunday at a background briefing in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, comes as Washington steps up its criticism of Iran and will feed a fierce debate over relations with the Islamic republic.
“Iran is involved in supplying explosively formed projectiles or EFPs and other material to Iraqi extremist groups,” a senior official from the US-led multinational coalition told journalists.
Three coalition officials met reporters to point the finger at the Al-Qods Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, part of Tehran’s elite forces accused of links with foreign militants.
“The Qods Force arms extremists and insurgents to carry out terrorist attacks and guerrilla warfare,” he said. “The Qods Force provides advice, training and weapons to proxy forces in Iraq.”
The men spoke on condition of anonymity for their security and cameras and recording devices were barred from the briefing, where an array of mortar shells and booby traps were laid out for inspection.
Taliban prepare for spring offensive in Afghan south
By Saeed Ali Achakzai Sun Feb 11,
SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Taliban fighters are continuing to reinforce a key southern town against an expected NATO offensive more than a week after taking it over, ending a controversial four month truce.
More than 1,500 villagers have fled the town of Musa Qala, in the Taliban heartland and the major opium province in the world’s largest supplier, in fear of renewed fighting.
“More than 300 fighters are in Musa Qala,” senior Taliban commander Mulla Hayatullah Khan told Reuters from an secret base.
“They have been alerted and military supplies are being provided from other areas.”
Residents say the Taliban are reinforcing their troops with heavy weapons, but NATO says there is no evidence of force build-dup.
The Taliban regularly over-run major centers, but rarely hold them for more than a day or two. This is one of the longest times a key center has been held.