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American Forces Press Service

Gates: Multinational Force Sweeps Pick Up Iranians

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

SEVILLE, Spain, Feb. 10, 2007 – Multinational forces in Iraq recently captured some Iranians during sweeps to find networks that build and emplace improvised explosive devices, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here yesterday.

Although Gates had no details about the devices, he said the sophistication of the technology and other evidence ties the projectiles to the Iranians.

“I think that Iran is very much involved in providing either the technology or the weapons themselves for these explosively foreign projectiles,” he said. “They don't represent a big percentage of the IED attacks, but they're extremely lethal.”

Gates said he wasn’t surprised that Iranians were involved, but he was surprised that some were caught.

“People have been pretty well convinced for months that the Iranians were involved in providing assistance in Iraq to those who are coming after American troops,” he said. “That's not new by any means, but I think that the fact that in a couple of these sweeps we picked them up at least surprised me.”

Gates pointed out that over the last few weeks U.S. officials have made an effort to tone down reports about Iran after a second U.S. carrier was sent to the region.

“I don't know how many times the president, Secretary (of State Condoleezza) Rice and I have had to repeat that we have no intention of attacking Iran, that the second carrier group is there to reassure our allies, as well as to send a signal that we've been in the Persian Gulf for decades and we intend to stay there,” Gates said.

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