(Reuters) - The U.S. military commander in Iraq stepped up accusations over the weekend that Iran was inciting violence there and said Tehran's ambassador to Baghdad was a member of the Revolutionary Guards Qods force.
In Baghdad, Iraq's government raised the death toll from a shooting involving U.S. security contractor Blackwater to 17, from 11 previously. A spokesman accused the firm of "deliberate killing" and said its guards fired without provocation.
Washington accuses Iran's Revolutionary Guards' elite Qods force of supporting militias who have attacked U.S. troops.
General David Petraeus , speaking at a U.S. military base about 30 km ( 20 miles) from the Iranian border on Saturday, said Iran was giving militia groups advanced weaponry and guidance.
"They are responsible for providing the weapons, the training, the funding and in some cases the direction for operations that have indeed killed U.S. soldiers," Petraeus told a group of reporters when asked if the Iranian government was responsible for killing U.S. troops.
Iran dismissed Petraeus's comments as "baseless". Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a news conference Petraeus's remarks were "not new".
Petraeus did not say how he knew Iran's ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi , was a Qods force member, but he appeared to suggest the envoy was not under the U.S. military spotlight because he was a diplomat.