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Iran still supports attacks in Iraq: US general

The top US military commander in Iraq said on Tuesday that Iran continues to back militants responsible for attacks even as the level of support has declined.

world Updated: Jun 30, 2009 22:47 IST
DPA

The top US military commander in Iraq said on Tuesday that Iran continues to back militants responsible for attacks even as the level of support has declined.

General Ray Odierno said the training of militants in Iran has continued as has the flow of weapons and ammunition across the border into Iraq.

"We continue to still see training going on inside of Iran," Odierno told reporters in Washington via video-conference from Baghdad. "We still believe weapons are moving and ammunition is moving from Iran into Iraq."

Odierno's comments came as US combat forces met Tuesday's deadline to withdraw from all Iraqi cities and towns as part of an agreement between the two countries that would have all US troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

There are about 130,000 US soldiers in Iraq. President Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw all combat troops by the end of August 2010, which would leave about 50,000 soldiers there by the following September, Odierno said.

The pullout from Iraqi cities was celebrated across the country as a major step toward regaining sovereignty. However, some US soldiers will remain in the cities to assist Iraqi security forces in training and advising. Odierno declined to provide numbers.

"I won't do it is because it's going to be different every single day, and it'll be based on how much training, how much advising, how much coordination is required," Odierno said.

Despite a recent spate of high profile bombing attacks in Baghdad and other cities, Odierno was confident that Iraqi forces are capable of securing the cities and that Al- Qaeda ability to launch strikes has been weakened.

"Al-Qaeda has been significantly degraded here in Iraq. However, as we've seen, over the last couple weeks, they're still capable of some attacks," he said.

Tehran has denied that it has been supporting militants in Iraq. Odierno said the US military is still discovering weapons that can be traced to Iran, although he said the flow has slowed in part because of better coordination by US and Iraqi forces in monitoring the border.