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U.S. forces raid Iranian consulate in Iraq
by reposts
Thursday Jan 11th, 2007 11:08 AM
ARBIL, Iraq, Jan 11 (Reuters) - U.S. forces stormed an Iranian consular office in the northern Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil early on Thursday and arrested five people, including diplomats and staff, Iranian officials said.
The U.S. military made no direct mention of Iranians but in answer to a query issued a statement saying six "individuals" were arrested during "routine" operations in the area.

As the overnight raid was in progress, President George W. Bush was vowing in a keynote address on American television to disrupt what he called the "flow of support" from Iran and Syria for insurgent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini condemned the raid -- the second such operation in the past month as tensions between Washington and Tehran have mounted -- and said it was a violation of international law.

"The activity of all those people at our office in Arbil was legal and was in cooperation with and had the approval of the Iraqi side," Hosseini told Iran's state-owned Arabic language satellite channel Al-Alam.

"There is no justification for this behaviour of the Americans, particularly because Iraqi officials were not informed about this move."

In a statement, the U.S. military said it had detained six people around Arbil on suspicion of being "closely tied to activities targeting Iraqi and coalition forces".

"This operation was part of an ongoing effort by coalition forces targeting individuals involved in activities aimed at the killing of Iraqi citizens and Coalition forces," it said, adding the suspects surrendered without incident.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, while not commenting on the operation in Arbil, told Fox News:

"The president made very clear last night that we know that Iran is engaged in activities that are endangering our troops, activities that are destabilising the young Iraqi government and that we're going to pursue those who may be involved in those activities."


Witnesses in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous northern region of Kurdistan bordering Iran, said Kurdish security forces sealed off the area after the Americans left. The Kurdish regional government made no immediate comment.

by NYT (reposted)
Thursday Jan 11th, 2007 11:08 AM
American forces backed by helicopters raided the Iranian consulate in the mainly Kurdish city of Erbil in northern Iraq before dawn today, detaining at least five Iranian employees in the building and seizing some property, according to Iraqi and Iranian officials and witnesses.

Kurdish forces were in control of the consulate building when a reporter went there after the raid. There was broken glass on the pavement outside the building, and no sign of the Iranian flag.

A statement from the United States military today did not mention the Iranian consulate specifically, saying only that six people were taken into custody in “routine security operations” in the Erbil area. Other than saying they were “suspected of being closely tied to activities targeting Iraqi and Coalition forces on Jan. 11,” the statement did not say who the people were.

But the American statement did warn that “the Coalition will continue to work with the Government of Iraq to prevent interference by hostile actors in Iraq’s internal security affairs.”

Statements by the Iranian government were more explicit. A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mohammad Ali Hosseini, said that United States forces arrested five Iranian staff members at the consulate early this morning, and confiscated computers and documents.

by reposted
Thursday Jan 11th, 2007 11:09 AM
U.S. forces raided the Iranian consulate in Iraq's northern city of Arbil and arrested five of its staff members, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported on Thursday.

After disarming the consulate's guards and breaking into the gate, U.S. troops entered the office building early Thursday morning, IRNA said, confirming Iraqi state television's earlier reports.

The Iraqi state television reported earlier that Multi-National Forces in Arbil detained staff members of the Iranian consulate there and confiscated computers and some documents.

The U.S. troops arrested five staff members and confiscated computers and documents, IRNA quoted "reliable sources" as saying.

The Iranian Embassy in Baghdad sent a letter to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry Thursday morning to protest against "the U.S. illegal move" and call on the Iraqi government to help secure immediate release of the five people, IRNA said.

According to Iran's state television, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said that U.S. forces in Iraq " bear full responsibility for the fate of the abducted diplomats."

Top envoys of the Iraqi Embassy as well as the Swiss Embassy, which takes care of the U.S. interests in Iran, were summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry for explanations, the television said.

by reposted
Thursday Jan 11th, 2007 11:11 AM
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. forces detained six Iranian officials for questioning in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, seat of the Kurdish regional government, an American official said Thursday.

But the official disputes accounts from Iran that the troops broke open a consulate gate and conducted a raid.

"No shots were fired. No altercation ensued," the U.S. official. "It was a knock on the door and 'Please come out.' "

Iran's government-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported five people were detained and said U.S. forces disarmed guards, broke open the consulate gate and confiscated computers and documents.

The U.S. official asserted the Iranians were not inside an officially designated diplomatic consulate or embassylike building.

Iraqi state-run TV network Al-Iraqiya identified the site as an Iranian consulate, but the Iraqi Foreign Ministry described the building as a "diplomatic representation."

The U.S. official would not identify the Iranian officials or say why they were being questioned.

In an earlier statement, the U.S. military said the individuals were "suspected of being closely tied to activities targeting Iraqi and coalition forces" and that their arrests came "without incident."