Iran Condemns US Raid On Its Iraq Consulate

TEHRAN (AFP)–Iran has condemned as "provocative" a raid by US troops on the Iranian consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil during which five employees were arrested. "This is a provocative US action and it is contrary to all international laws, and it is condemned," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told state run radio. "By doing this the Americans are following two aims, firstly to continue their pressure on Iran and secondly to create tension among Iraq’s neighbors," he said Thursday. "These provocations and mischievous actions cannot tarnish the ongoing friendly relations with Iraq," Hosseini added, however. He said that Iran had asked Iraqi officials to pursue the case. An Iranian diplomat in Baghdad said on condition of anonymity that US troops had Thursday raided the Iranian consulate in Arbil and arrested five employees. "We don’t know the reason for this," the diplomat said of the raid, which came amid mounting US accusations that Iranian agents are fomenting unrest in Iraq and ordering attacks on American forces. "The Americans arrested five employees and took all the computers and documentation," the Iranian official said. The US military in Iraq said that its forces had made six arrests in Arbil on Thursday, but did not confirm if any were Iranians. Kurdish security forces, according to an AFP correspondent at the scene, sealed off the Iranian consulate building in Arbil, which is the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region. This is not the first time that US troops have arrested Iranian officials. On December 27 a US military spokesman, Major General William Caldwell, said that US forces had detained two Iranian nationals among eight people rounded up on suspicion of weapons smuggling in a raid in Baghdad. The two Iranians were later handed over to Iranian officials in Baghdad.

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