Iran backs Iraq’s crackdown on ‘armed groups’

April 24, 2008

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) -- Iran said on Tuesday that it backs the Iraqi government’s crackdown on armed groups and denied accusations of assisting militias in the war-battered nation.

“There are armed groups in Iraq. A firm measure must be applied to disarm all these groups, without any exception,” Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki told a press conference in Kuwait.
“Weapons should be only in the hands of the Iraqi army,” said Mottaki, who took part in a key conference of foreign ministers of Iraq’s neighbors and Western powers.
Iraqi security forces have launched a crackdown against the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the southern oil city of Basra and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed to disarm all illegal groups.
Mottaki denied accusations that Shiite Iran was assisting Shiite militias in Basra and interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs.
“The ones who should be blamed are the foreign forces in Iraq,” he said.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran provides the strongest support to the Iraqi government and the political process and thus it is illogical to accuse us of supporting terrorist groups there,” Mottaki said.