Iran upping support for militants in Iraq, top US officer says

Iran Materials 25 April 2008 21:31 (UTC +04:00)

Iran has been increasing its support for militants in Iraq and terrorism throughout the Middle East, the top US military officer said Friday, dpa reported.

Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon that Tehran has failed to live up to previous commitments to stop supporting Shiite militants responsible for attacks against coalition and Iraqi forces.

"The Iranian government pledged to halt such activities some months ago," Mullen said. "It's plainly obvious they have not. Indeed, they seem to have gone the other way."

Iran's elite al-Quds force has continued providing weapons to militants and trains Iraqis on Iranian soil to fight and kill US and Iraqi soldiers.

Iran flatly rejects US allegations of meddling in Iraq.

Over the last few years Iran has also begun increasing support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which carries out attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip, Mullen said.

Mullen also said Iran was continuing to provide arms in the form of material for making makeshift bombs to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Mullen said the United States was committed to using diplomatic and financial pressure to compel Tehran to change its behaviour but added that military force should not be ruled out, although he played down that option.

"I have no expectations that we're going to get into conflict with Iran in the immediate future," he said.