Signs of Iran in Battle for Basra

[New York Post] Amir Taheri - In the recent fighting in Basra in Iraq, at least some of the officers in charge of the Mahdi Army rebel units may be seconded from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as part of a broader plan to control the Basra region, and thus the lifeline of the Iraqi economy. This wouldn't be the first time that Guard officers and NCOs have fought at the head of native fighters outside Iran. Two years ago, Guard personnel played a crucial role in the war between the Lebanese Hizbullah and Israel. The type of weapons used in both Basra and Baghdad also suggests at least some outside involvement. The rebels in Basra are using a large number of armored vehicles - something no other Shiite militia, and certainly not the Mahdi Army, had ever done. They're also using heavy artillery, mobile rocket launchers and a sophisticated communications system unavailable to militias. Visitors to Basra since Saddam's fall have often been struck by the massive "Iranian" presence there. Much of this consists of large numbers of Iraqi Shiites who have come home after years of exile in Iran.

2008-04-01 01:00:00

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