Washington: Secret US files released on Friday show Iran waging a shadow war with US troops in Iraq, with a firefight erupting on the border and Tehran allegedly using militias to kill and kidnap American soldiers.
The military intelligence reports on Iran’s role, released by WikiLeaks and posted by The New York Times and the Guardian, provide details of a dangerous contest for influence in Iraq between Washington and Tehran.
But US allegations of Iran arming and training Shiite militants in Iraq are nothing new, and American officials and military commanders have long accused Tehran of trying to sow violence to undermine US influence and weaken its allies in Baghdad.
One field report describes a tense border incident on September 7, 2006, when an Iranian soldier aimed a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at a US unit patrolling near the border with Iraqi troops.
US troops shot and killed the Iranian with a .50 caliber machine gun, the report said.
The US unit was in the area “in order to identify key infiltration routes into Iraq” used by Iran to funnel weapons into Iraq, the document said.
The American unit had instructions to stay one kilometer from the Iranian border at all times, due to “special sensitivities around the border due to UN sanctions and Iranian concern that US was attempting to mount an invasion,” it said.
The documents describe Iran arming and training Iraqi hit squads to carry out attacks on coalition troops and Iraqi government officials, with the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps suspected of playing a crucial role, the newspapers reported, citing the files.
Attacks backed by Iran persisted after President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, with no sign that the new leader’s more conciliatory tone led to any change in Tehran’s support for the militias, the New York Times wrote, quoting the documents.
The documents describe accounts from detainees, the diary of a captured militant and the discovery of numerous weapons caches as proof of Iran’s designs.
According to one document, the Iranians plotted to attack the Green Zone in Baghdad — where key Iraqi government buildings and Western embassies were located — using rockets and an armored vehicle loaded with chemical gas, the Guardian reported.
Another report alleges plans to use Iranian-supplied rockets with “neuroparalytic” agents designed to incapacitate their victims, the Guardian wrote.
An account from November 2005 describes Iraqi border police in Basra finding “bombing-making equipment” that included “explosively formed projectiles,” a lethal roadside explosive that US officials say is supplied by Iran.