U.S. Stages Second Secret Raid at Iraq Airport

ByABC News
January 11, 2007, 3:36 PM

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 11, 2007 — -- U.S. troops staged two secret raids in northern Iraq today, ABC News has learned, capturing as many as six Iranians and only narrowly avoiding a gun battle with local security forces, according to the Iraqi foreign ministry and local officials in northern Iraq's Kurdish region.

The Iranian government has made an official complaint to the government in Baghdad, which the Iraqi Foreign Ministry has relayed to the U.S. Embassy.

In the first raid, the U.S. troops stormed a building that houses the Iranian liaison office in the northern city of Irbil at 3 a.m. local time, where they detained at least five Iranians and also confiscated computers and documents.

A nearby resident told the Associated Press that the troops used stun bombs in the raid and had helicopters flying overhead as they went through the two-story yellow house.

In the second raid, staged later in the day, U.S. troops attempted to abduct more people from inside the perimeter of Irbil airport, but were surrounded by Kurdish peshmerga troops.

"This group has come from nowhere," Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told ABC News. "They were unwilling to reveal their identity and entered the airport, which is a very sensitive area, and there was a response by the local forces."

Both sides were heavily armed, and shooting very nearly broke out. "There weren't any casualties, but it was a split second really for a disaster to happen. This has created a great deal of anxiety," said Zebari.

It is unclear where the U.S. troops came from -- even local U.S. officials contacted by the Kurdish authorities had no knowledge of the armed men.

The American military later issued a statement saying it had detained six people in a raid in Irbil, but did not specify their nationality or give any other information about the raids.

The raids came within hours of President Bush's speech about future U.S. policy in Iraq, which included a pledge to "interrupt the flow of support from Iran" for anti-U.S. forces in Iraq.