BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hezbollah on Thursday denied a U.S. intelligence claim it was training Iraqi militants in Lebanon on how to operate armor-piercing munitions which have been used against U.S. forces in Iraq.
The Pentagon has said Iran, a main backer of Shi‘ite Muslim group Hezbollah, is training Iraqi Shi‘ites in both Iran and Lebanon to use the weapons, which have been blamed for the deaths of 170 U.S. troops in Iraq.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director, Army Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, said this week he believed Hezbollah was involved in the training and had heard reports that some might be taking place in Lebanon at Hezbollah camps.
“The last American accusations do not go beyond the context of the weapons of mass deceit which the Bush administration is still using in Iraq, the region and the world,” Hezbollah said in a statement.
President Bush in January called Iranian-backed “Shi‘ite extremists” as great a peril to his country as al Qaeda, singling out Hezbollah, which Washington lists as a terrorist group.