Report: Iran ordered abductions to avenge defections

Monday, March 26, 2007

LONDON Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps launched a campaign against the U.S.-led coalition in response to the defection and detention of senior regime officials, according to a newspaper report.

Iranian sources said the IRGC abducted British sailors in Shatt Al Arab on March 23 to retaliate for the defection of senior Iranian officials and officers. They said IRGC has blamed Britain and the United States for the defections of senior members of the Quds Brigade.

"IRGC has been fuming over the recent defections and has been looking for ways to respond," an Iranian source said.

On Sunday, the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat quoted a military source close to the Quds Brigade who said that Iran's Higher Defense Council convened in emergency session to discuss a report by Chief of Staff Gen. Hassan Fayrouz Abadi.

The Iranian report, relayed by Quds Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, asserted that the defections have led to the unraveling of the Quds Brigade and IRGC network in Iraq. The report was said to have detailed the defections of the commander of the Quds force in Iraq, his assistant and three aides, Middle East Newsline reported.

On March 23, IRGC captured 15 British sailors in two navy patrol boats in Shatt Al Arab, the waterway shared by Iran and Iraq. The Iranian military said the British vessels entered Iranian waters, denied by British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Sunday.

But the sources said IRGC planned the abduction in wake of the defection of major Iranian officials and commanders. They said IRGC obtained approval from Iran's Higher Defense Council and relayed the decision through the chain of command on March 18.

The Quds network was said to have been responsible for the supply of so-called Explosively Formed Penetrators to Shi'ite insurgents in Iraq. The U.S. military reported that incidents of EFPs, capable of penetrating the U.S.-origin M1A2 main battle tank, dropped significantly over the last month. On Monday, five U.S. soldiers were reported to have been killed by improvised explosive devices in Iraq.

A-Sharq Al Awsat said IRGC has planned to abduct British and U.S. military officers in Iraq. At that point, the IRGC would offer the return of the coalition officers for the Iranian defectors or detainees.

"It was then that instructions were issued to the units of the Guards and the Marine Base at Khurramshahr to implement the first part of the plan by laying siege and detaining one of the British Navy patrols charged with combating smuggling," the newspaper said.

The Iranian sources said the IRGC was stunned by the defections of senior officers. They said the military force has been accused of lax security by rivals in the mullah regime in Teheran.

In September 2006, an IRGC platoon infiltrated Iraq and attacked a joint Iraqi-U.S. force with rocket-propelled grenades and light weapons. A U.S. Army report said six Iraqi soldiers and police were missing after the attack in the Diyala province, some 115 kilometers east of Baghdad.

Copyright 2007 East West Services, Inc.

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