Iraq downplays smuggling accusation

Reports that deadly roadside bombs have been smuggled into Iraq from Iran are exaggerated, the country's interior minister said.

    Minister Bayan Jabr (M) said a border incident was exaggerated

    On Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said some weapons are entering Iraq from Iran although it is unclear whether they were coming from elements of the Iranian government or from other parties.

     

    Interior Minister Bayan Jabr told reporters that Iraqi security forces recently opened fire on a group of men carrying boxes near the Iranian border. The men dropped the boxes and fled back into Iranian territory.

     

    "This is all that happened at the border and was very much exaggerated," Jabr, a senior member in the Iran-backed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), said on Wednesday.

    Appearing before parliament, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari dodged questions about the use of Iranian weapons by fighters in Iraq.

    Al-Jaafari, who spent years in exile in Iran, referred questions to the interior and defense ministries.

     

    Al-Jaafari was responding to a question by a Shia legislator, Hussein al-Sadr, about US allegations that weapons were coming in from Iran.

    Rumsfeld accused Iran of allowing
    weapons to be smuggled into Iraq

    "Concerning me, I don't comment on reports especially if they are coming from abroad," al-Jaafari said. "It should not be that someone says something and we sit here and open a conversation about it. We have our own sources."

     

    Iranian rejection

    Iran on Wednesday rejected Rumsfeld's smuggling claims.

     

    "With such contradictory declarations, Rumsfeld is trying to cover the US mistakes in Iraq," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said, according to the official IRNA news agency.

     

    "The American leaders are under pressure from the international and regional public and the Iraqi Muslim people, and to justify their failings they invent a ficticious enemy," he said.

    Rumsfeld said Tuesday that US intelligence officials believe a

    cache of powerful explosives discovered about two weeks ago in northeastern Iraq came from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

    Al-Jaafari said his country's security agencies would investigate the claims. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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