World Report

Hezbollah Training Hit Squads In Iran: U.S.

Iraqi Shiite assassination teams are being trained in at least four locations in Iran by Tehran’s elite Quds force and Lebanese Hezbollah and are planning to return to Iraq in the next few months to kill specific Iraqi officials as well as U.S. and Iraqi troops, according to intelligence gleaned from captured militia fighters and other sources in Iraq.

A senior U.S. military intelligence officer in Baghdad described the information Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.

The officer on Wednesday provided Iraq’s national security adviser with several lists of the assassination teams’ expected targets. He said the targets include many judges but would not otherwise identify them. Iraq’s intelligence service is preparing operations to determine where and when the special group fighters will enter the country and is to provide an assessment to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The U.S. official acknowledged disclosing the information in an attempt to pressure Iran to suspend the training and prevent the militia fighters from returning to Iraq. The U.S. military also wants the Iraqi government to take steps to protect the targets. “Wanted” posters picturing men believed to be heading the special groups are being posted around Baghdad, the military officer said.

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