August 16th, 2011
06:58 PM ET

Iran is the biggest threat to Iraq's security, says Pentagon official

By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

The single largest threat to Iraq's security today comes from Iranian-backed militia groups and the thousands of fighters, cash and weapons under their control, according to Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday, Buchanan said these groups now outpace al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which once controlled much of the insurgency that terrorized the country.

The United States suspects these groups were behind a number of deaths of U.S. troops in June, using weapons brought in from Iran. Some Iranian-made weapons have been found with manufacture dates as recent as last year, Buchanan said. Overall he said there is "a significant increase in support" from Iran's secretive Quds force, the elite unit of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Buchanan said he believes Iraqi government officials understand Iran's influence could pose a long-term threat and they have told Iran "to knock it off," but he emphasized that was his opinion only.

As for AQI, Buchanan said it still controls anywhere between 800 to 1,000 fighters, but the long-time use of foreign fighters coming into Iraq across the Syrian border has slowed to a trickle. Buchanan said AQI is now so desperate for funds it's engaging in robberies to get money, however the group is also beginning to establish "legitimate businesses" to finance its operations. He said, it will "take a long time to defeat them."

Buchanan also confirmed the United States is informally talking to Iraq about a continued U.S. troop presence in the country after the end of this year. He didn't rule out that troops could find themselves in combat in a new arrangement, but emphasized the expectation is Iraq will ask for help with training its troops.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Iran • Iraq • Military • Terrorism
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  3. mary

    I feel sorry for most of the Iranian people, who cannot function on their own free will. If they speak a different opinion, they are punished, if the leave Islam, they are punished...thats why some EGYPTIAN Muslim sects want sharia, so they can continue to be oppressive in the name of religion. IRAN is a big threat to the Middle East, the government is very keen and good at manipulation of others, but most of its educated are wise to its plots. To those countries befriending it beware, the Iranian people have lived under their disguises....and would embrace a secular government where we all can have a voice and a choice...dont be fooled, you are being used, as is Hizzbollah and Hamas who are controlled by Irans master manipulators...Iranians would suggest to them this" Embrace all of Palestine people, Arab, Christian and other...learn to communicate with the Jewish PEOPLE(key word is PEOPLE not gov) who want the peace, they are not your enemy, they can be reasoned with, but Iranian GOV are the real zions..lions..devils..tempting you with words so you will help them with their agenda of LIES and control.....they are in YOUR BUSINESS, do you see it? Iraqi sunni and shia unite , but do not join with the Iranian regime influences or anyone associated with them, as IR GOV have ulterior motives, they are wolves in sheeps clothing, we the people of there know them all too well ...BORO to Iran gov, bring back democratic PERSIA, zoastria!!!

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  5. Naomi

    I don't agree. They need literacy and the Bible texts. Earthlings never mature without the Judeo-Christian values. Illiteracy and lack of Biblical knowledge are the greatest threat. Secular democracy is an abhorrence to any Muslims.

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