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US to build military base on Iraq-Iran border

by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) Sept 10, 2007
The US military said on Monday that it is to build a base on Iraq's border with Iran to stem what it charges is rampant smuggling of weapons and fighters.

The base, which the military describes as a "life support area", will be set up near the headquarters of the Department of Border Enforcement in Badrah, in the central province of Wasit.

The province, currently the theatre of a massive US-led military crackdown targeting Shiite militiamen allegedly involved in weapons smuggling, shares a 200 kilometre (125 mile) border with Iran.

It said the base is "not really permanent, although it will be manned 24/7 and will be used for as long as necessary."

The base will also accommodate some of the 2,000 Georgian soldiers being deployed in the province to staff new checkpoints being set up to control the border, the military said.

"We've got a major problem with Iranian munitions streaming into Iraq," Major General Rick Lynch, the commander of US army forces in central Iraq, was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

"This Iranian interference is troubling and we have to stop it."

The newspaper gave further details about the base, saying it will have living quarters for some 200 soldiers, will be built six kilometres (four miles) from the border and should be completed by November.

It said the US military also plans to install X-ray machines and explosives-detecting sensors at Zurbatiya, the main border crossing between Iran and Iraq.

On August 19, Lynch charged that some 50 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards were inside Iraq training Shiite extremists to launch attacks on US and Iraqi security forces.

The US military has regularly accused Iranian forces of training Iraqi militants to use rockets and explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) -- fist-sized bombs capable of slicing through heavy armour -- but Lynch's comments marked the first claims that they were operating inside Iraq.

The US military says EFPs are manufactured in Iran, smuggled into Iraq and delivered to Shiite extremists for attacks on US-led coalition forces. Tehran denies the charge.

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Britain stayed in Basra longer because of US: commander
London (AFP) Sept 10, 2007
Britain was prepared to withdraw its forces from the southern Iraqi city of Basra in April, but held off for five months after the United States asked it to stay, Britain's military commander in Iraq said in an interview published on Monday.

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