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Report: Syria, Iran Trying to Influence Iraqi Election


A published report cites U.S. intelligence officials as saying insurgents in Iraq are receiving more direction from Iraqis now living in Syria than previously believed. The report says Saddam Hussein loyalists are funneling money and other support to those attacking U.S. troops and the interim government.

A handful of senior Iraqi Baathists who have taken refuge in Syria are collecting money from private sources in Saudi Arabia and Europe to aid the insurgency, according to the Washington Post.

U.S. officials say Washington has begun to press Damascus to arrest or expel certain Iraqis. The Post also quoted Syria's ambassador to the U.S. as rejecting the allegations as unfounded.

Elsewhere, the leaders of Iraq and Jordan - in separate interviews with the Post - accused Iran of trying to influence the upcoming elections in Iraq.

Jordan's King Abdullah says more than one million Iranians have crossed the border into Iraq, many to vote in the election, with the encouragement of the Iranian government.

Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer claims Iran is coaching candidates and giving large sums of money to political parties sympathetic to Tehran, in an effort to produce a Shia-dominated government similar to Iran's.

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited American troops in Kuwait, preparing to deploy to Iraq. He praised U.S. efforts there, but some soldiers expressed frustration, saying they still lack properly armored vehicles. Mr. Rumsfeld insisted the Army was pushing manufacturers to produce vehicle armor as quickly as possible.