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U.S. sees Iran's influence in Iraq as violence spikes

Sunday, June 12, 2011 - 02:25

June 11 - The U.S. see militias supported by Iran as contributing to a spike in violence, a charge Iran denies. Deborah Lutterbeck reports

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Violence spikes in Iraq. While overall levels of of violence in Iraq have fallen sharply from the peak of sectarian slaughter in 2006-2007, attacks still occur daily across the country. And it is not just al Qaeda posing a threat. Increasingly Americans see militias supported by Iran asserting their influence -- a charge Iran denies. Major General Jeffrey Buchanan in Baghdad was made available to Reuters by the Pentagon. SOUNDBITE: Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, saying (English): "I think it is very important to understand that Iran and Iraq share a very long border. It is important for them to have a relationship. But in the past it has been a very negative relationship. And Iran has attempted to dominate Iraq, economically, politically and certainly through the security situation, through their training and support of these violent proxies. that continue to conduct attacks. These groups claim that they are just attacking US forces, but the vast amount of casualties that result from these attacks , roadside bombs or mortar or rocket attacks are actually Iraqi civilians." With all U.S. troops expected to leave Iraq by the end of the year, increasingly there is speculation that Iraq may ask for some U.S. forces to remain on the ground. Earlier this week, Defense Secretary nominee Leon Panetta told Congress that he expected Iraq to ask for some U.S. forces to remain in Iraq. Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates has publicly suggested that Iran was another reason to keep U.S. forces in Iraq. Last month, Gates said a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq would be "reassuring" to Gulf states. He added it would not be reassuring to neighboring Iran and "that's a good thing." Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters

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U.S. sees Iran's influence in Iraq as violence spikes

Sunday, June 12, 2011 - 02:25