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Coalition Targets Iranian Influence in Northern Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2007 – As part of their ongoing effort to target Iranian influence in northern Iraq, coalition forces continue investigating the activities of five Iranian nationals detained in Irbil, Iraq, Jan. 11, officials in Baghdad said today.

Preliminary results revealed the five detainees are connected to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard - Qods Force, an organization known to provide funds, weapons, improvised explosive device technology and training to extremist groups attempting to destabilize the Iraqi government and attack coalition forces, they reported.

Officials said efforts will continue to target all who break the law, attack coalition force or attempt to undermine the Iraqi government.

The facility in which the detention took place has been described by various Iraqi officials as an Iranian liaison office, but it did not enjoy the diplomatic status of a consulate, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.

The multinational force, in keeping with U.S. policy, will continue to disrupt logistical support to extremists that originate from outside Iraq, they said. These initiatives are part of a broader plan officials said includes diplomatic efforts designed to support the Iraqi government, protect the Iraqi people and seek assistance from neighboring nations.

Today on “Fox News Sunday,” Vice President Dick Cheney also touched on Iran’s involvement in Iraq, saying the Iranians use the terrorist organization Hezbollah “as a surrogate” in an attempt to topple democratically elected governments in the region.

“The threat that Iran represents is growing. It’s multi-dimensional, and it is in fact a concern to everybody in the region,” he said. “We do not want them doing what they can to destabilize the situation inside Iraq.”

(Compiled from a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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