Thursday, October 13, 2005

Attacks on UK troops bear Iranian stamp - minister

Defence Secretary John Reid stepped up accusations on Thursday that Iranians were behind a series of roadside bomb attacks on British troops in southern Iraq. "The nature of these (attacks) leads us to believe they are originating with Hizbollah...supported by the Iranians. And we believe there are elements of Iranian society associated with these attacks," he told journalists at a meeting of EU defence ministers at an air force base west of London. READ MORE

Reid said he had no evidence the Iranian government was involved but insisted Britain could not accept the situation.

"It is not something we can tolerate. British troops will do everything necessary to defend themselves. Anyone involved in this is involved in a risky game," he cautioned.

Eight British soldiers have been killed by roadside bombs since May.

Newspapers this week quoted unnamed defence sources as saying London believed Iran's Revolutionary Guard had taught Shi'ite militia members from Iraq how to make armour-piercing devices.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said last week there was unproven evidence linking Iran or its Lebanese Hizbollah allies to the sophisticated roadside bombs.

Blair said the accusations were not proven but worrying. He also said the bombs might have been an attempt by Iran to intimidate Britain over its tough stance in talks to limit Tehran's use of nuclear technology.

Iran and Hizbollah denied any links to the bombs.