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US captured 'wrong Iranians'
US soldiers who captured five Iranians in the Iraq's northern city of Irbil three months ago were hoping to seize commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, a senior Kurdish leader has said.
Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish region government, said senior Guards leaders had been visiting Kurdish officials at the time of the January raid.
The five Iranian diplomats who were arrested in the raid on a house in Irbil were all innocent of US charges that they were helping co-ordinate attacks against US and Iraqi forces, Barzani told Dubai-based Al-Arabiyah television in remarks broadcast on Friday.
"It [the house] was not a secret Iranian office," Barzani said.
"It is impossible for us to accept that an Iranian office in Irbil was doing things against coalition forces or against us. That office was doing its work in a normal way and had they been doing anything hostile we would have known that."
"They [the Americans] did not come to detain the people [the five Iranians] in that office."
Barzani suggested that the US forces had instead hoped to captured senior members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards who were visiting the area at the time.