January 27, 2007

U.S. Troops Authorized to Kill Iranian Operatives in Iraq

From the Washington Post:

The Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran's influence across the Middle East, according to government and counterterrorism officials. For more than a year, U.S. forces in Iraq have secretly detained dozens of suspected Iranian agents. U.S. forces collected DNA samples from some of the Iranians without their knowledge, subjected others to retina scans, and fingerprinted and photographed all of them before letting them go. Officials said that about 150 Iranian intelligence officers, plus members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Command, are believed to be active inside Iraq at any given time. U.S. troops now have the authority to target any member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard in Iraq, as well as officers of its intelligence services believed to be working with Iraqi militias.

The White House has authorized a widening of the list of approved operations that can be carried out against the Iranian-backed Hizbullah in Lebanon, and U.S. officials plan more aggressive moves to disrupt Tehran's funding of the radical Palestinian group Hamas. Advocates of the new policy said that only direct and aggressive efforts can shatter Iran's growing influence. A less confident Iran, with fewer cards, may be more willing to cut the kind of deal the Bush administration is hoping for on its nuclear program. "The Iranians respond to the international community only when they are under pressure, not when they are feeling strong," one official said.

See also Tehran's Influence Growing in Iraq:
Iran's expanding influence in Iraq is built on deep cultural ties as well as personal and business relationships developed during the years that many leading Iraqi Shiite politicians spent in exile in Iran.
Hat tip to Daily Alert for the sources.