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Iranian Freedom Fighters UNITE

Friday, July 27, 2007

US troops battle Kerbala militia

The US military usually stays out of the holy city of KerbalaClashes between Shia militiamen and a joint US-Iraqi force have left nine people dead in an Iraqi holy city. Around 23 people were wounded in the fighting in Kerbala as US and Iraqi troops carried out a pre-dawn raid.
Shooting began as the US-Iraqi force moved in to arrest figures from the Mehdi Army, which is loyal to the radical cleric Moqtada Sadr. South-central Iraq has been riven by battles between rival Shia militias and US and Iraqi forces in recent months. Several civilians were reported to have been killed in the clashes, which saw helicopters called in to support the US troops. A spokesman for a political group linked to the Mehdi Army told the AFP news agency that three of the dead were fighters from the Shia militia. The US military, which usually stays out of Kerbala, has not commented on the incident. Kerbala, 110 km (70 miles) south-west of Baghdad, is the site of one of the holiest shrines for Shia Muslims.

Iran Gets Involved in Afghanistan

July 27, 2007 Institute For War & Peace Reporting Sadeq Behman and Sudabah Afzali
HERAT, Afghanistan — The young man was quite open about his mission. "Our purpose is jihad against foreigners and the government of Afghanistan," he said, asking that his name not be used. And, he claimed, he was hardly alone in his cause. "There are a lot of Iranians in our group," he said. "They say they have come to do jihad against America." The comments by this resident of Farah Province, which borders Iran, are just the latest indication that Iran is playing a growing role in the insurgency in Afghanistan. The young insurgent identified himself as a member of Soldiers of Mohammad the Prophet, a jihadi organization that, he said, is supported by Iran. "Many Muslims from other countries have come here for this," he said. For weeks now, both American and Afghan officials have been claiming that Tehran is working to destabilize the Afghan government. U.S. Ambassador William Wood recently claimed that an increasing number of Iranian weapons were turning up inside Afghanistan. The envoy stopped just short of implicating the Iranian government of openly arming the insurgency. Lt. Col. Rahmatullah Safai, regional police commander for Afghanistan's western region, confirmed that weapons clearly marked as having been manufactured in Iran had been found in Herat Province. "Recently, we found three anti-vehicle mines that were marked 'SPI' (an acronym for The Revolutionary Guard in Iran) that were found by our police in the Tirkash area of Herat Province, which is located less than two miles from the Iranian border," he said. Col. Shah Jehan Noori, the police chief of Ghor Province, also said that the authorities had found a weapons depot that included 40 anti-vehicle and anti-personnel mines made in Iran and Russia. Smear campaign? Iran has adamantly denied meddling in Afghan affairs and said such accusations were part of an international smear campaign against the Tehran government. "The West has been waging a psychological war against Iran since the victory of the Islamic revolution," said Mohammad Ali Najafi Manesh, a diplomatic official for the Islamic Republic of Iran in Herat Province. So far, Afghan President Hamed Karzai has consistently rebuffed attempts to link Iranians to the insurgency. He recently reiterated that Iran and Afghanistan were good friends and partners. Members of his own government, however, contradict Karzai, pointing to mounting evidence of cooperation between Iranians and the insurgency — although it remains unclear whether such cooperation has the official backing of the government in Tehran. A source inside the Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that there was Iranian influence in anti-government efforts in western Afghanistan. "We have information that Balochis (a sect in Iran) are active from Farah and Heart provinces," he said. Harder to prove, however, is direct involvement by the Iranian government. Even the young Afghan claiming to be a member of the Soldiers of the Prophet Mohammad said that his colleagues were acting independently. "The Balochi people of Iran and other Iranians say that they have come to do jihad against America voluntarily. They were not sent by the government of Iran," he said. In fact the Balochis have had their own problems with the Iranian government over the years, And unlike the vast majority of Iranians, who are Shias, Balochis, like most Afghans and the Taliban, are Sunni Muslims. Col. Sayed Aqa Saqeb, the police chief of Farah province, confirmed that authorities had seen armed Balochi groups from Iran operating in border areas but could not determine if their actions were sanctioned by the Iranian government. "We are still investigating," he said. Mohammad Rafiq Shahir, a political analyst in Herat, thinks Iran may be attempting to have it both ways by, at the very least, turning a blind eye to its citizens' involvement in Afghanistan. On the one hand, Shahir said, Iran wants to cooperate and influence the current Afghan government. On the other hand, Iran is anxious to make life as difficult as possible for the United States in Afghanistan.

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