WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 12, 2006 -- The five Iranians detained in Iraq Thursday during a raid in Irbil belong to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard and may have helped insurgents attack American troops, according to the U.S. State Department.
This has the potential to increase tensions between the United States and Iran, because the Iranians were part of an intensified effort to funnel weapons and money to insurgents, U.S. officials note.
Computers and documents were also confiscated during the raid, a day after the Bush administration issued strong warnings to Iraq's neighbors.
During his national address Wednesday, Bush said, "We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria, and we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."
Weapon Shipments to Shiite Militia
The United States has been more aggressive in recent weeks, and for good reason. Miltary intelligence officials told ABC News that over the past five weeks, large shipments of weapons, including armor-piercing bombs, had been smuggled to the Shiite militia loyal to cleric Moatada al-Sadr.
While testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace talked about Iran's influence and U.S. military efforts.
"They continue to raid, and they will continue to raid. I think one of the reasons you keep hearing about Iran is because we keep finding their stuff in Iraq," Pace said.
"The gloves have come off on the Iranian side, but the gloves have come off also on the American side," said ABC News consultant Alexix Debat. "You know, this is probably not new intelligence. … What is new is that the U.S. government has decided to move against those elements."
When asked if the U.S. would cross over the border and into Iran, Pace and others have said that won't be necessary. They will remain within the borders of Iraq.