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.