General: Iran Providing Support to Iraqi Militias

American Brig. Gen. Michael Barbero tells reporters at the Pentagon that Iran is backing Shiite militia groups, and even death squads, inside Iraq. Barbero said several hundred forts have now been constructed along the borders of Iraq. Their mission is to stop insurgents coming from Iran and Syria.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne. The U.S. Military has made one of its most pointed allegations yet against the government of Iran.

An American brigadier general, Michael Barbero, spoke to reporters at the Pentagon yesterday. He blamed Iran for backing Shiite militia groups and even death squads inside neighboring Iraq.

Genera MICHAEL BARBERO (Deputy Director for Regional Operations, Joint Chiefs of Staff; U.S. Army): I think it's irrefutable that Iran is responsible for training, funding, and equipping some of these Shia extremist groups, and also providing advanced IED technology to them.

MONTAGNE: IEDs, or improved explosive devices, in Iraq have become more high-tech and deadlier as the insurgency has grown. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others have often said Iranians are funding the Shia insurgency, although the U.S. has not directly blamed the central government in Tehran -until now, because that is exactly where Gen. Barbero places the blame.

Gen. BARBERO: I think it is a policy of the central government of Iran to support the Shia extremist groups in Iraq.

MONTAGNE: Gen. Barbero said several hundred forts have now been constructed along the borders of Iraq. Their mission is to stop insurgents coming from Iran and Syria.

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