Fighters from the Lebanon-based pro-Iranian Hezbollah group have been training Iraqi militia members at a camp near Tehran, the New York Times reported yesterday. Citing US interrogation reports, the newspaper said the account of Hezbollah’s role was provided by four Shiite militia members who were captured in Iraq late last year and separately questioned by US interrogators.
Information gleaned from the questioning was given to the Iraqi government before Baghdad sent a delegation to Tehran last week to discuss allegations of Iranian aid to militia groups, the paper said. It is not known if the delegation confronted its Iranian hosts with the information, or how the Iranians responded, the Times said.
“We have experienced in the past that Iran interfered and has special groups in Iraq, but Iran also had evidence that they were participating in positive ways in security,” Ali al-Dabbagh, a senior Iraqi government spokesman, was quoted in the report as saying. “We would like the Iranians to keep their commitment, the commitments they made in meetings with the prime minister and with other groups that have visited them. They had made the promise that Iran would be playing a supportive role.”
Militiamen mostly loyal to Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have been battling US troops in Baghdad’s Sadr City.