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British Defense Secretary Says Terror Attacks in Iraq May Have Iranian Links

  • Lisa Ferdinando

British Defense Secretary John Reid says recent terrorists attacks in Iraq may have links to elements in Iran.

Defense Secretary Reid, who made the comment Monday at the Pentagon with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, said recent strikes against coalition troops in Iraq also have similarities with methods used by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

"It is our belief that the nature of the devices being used against British troops and possibly elsewhere in Iraq in recent months bear the hallmark of groups like Hezbollah and may well be connected with elements within Iran," he said.

He did not elaborate, but said officials do not have evidence that the Iranian government is involved. He said the situation is nevertheless "worrying."

Iran and Hezbollah have previously rejected similar claims.

A top British official, Major General James Dutton, said last week that sophisticated technology and explosives are moving into Iraq from Iran, making improvised explosive devices more deadly.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld pledged to stay the course in Iraq until the mission is complete. He said troop reduction depends on the security situation. "As conditions on the ground there permit and require, obviously the commanders on the ground will recommend that coalition forces and U.S. forces pare down as responsibility is transferred over to Iraqis, and it's been being transferred over to Iraqis in recent months," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld also said pulling out of Iraq or even Afghanistan early would lead to what he called "greater danger later."

Britain, the United States' staunchest ally in the war in Iraq, has some 8,500 troops deployed in southern Iraq.