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Iran Wants To Swap UK Captives For Iraq POWs

 From Asharq Al-Awsat:

Tehran Wants to Swap British Sailors for Iranian Officers Detained in Iraq- Iranian Military Source

25/03/2007

By Ali Nourizadeh

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A military source close to the command of the Iranian Al-Quds Brigade revealed to Asharq al-Awsat the motives behind detaining 15 British sailors in Shatt al-Arab on Friday. He said the decision to take in the British military elements was taken at an emergency meeting of the Higher Defense Council in the light of a report received by Brigadier Qasim Sulaymani, the commander of Al-Quds Brigade, and communicated on 18 March to General Hasan Fayruz Abadi, the armed forces Chief-of-staff.

Asharq al-Awsat learns that the report contained a warning that the operations undertaken by Al-Quds Brigade and the Revolutionary Guards have become exposed to American and British military intelligence after the arrest by American forces of Brigadier Tayshizri, the commander of Al-Quds Brigade operations in Iraq, and his assistant, Brigadier Qayim, and three of their aides in Irbil, and the subsequent abduction of Jalal Sharafi, the representative of the Intelligence Ministry at the Iranian diplomatic mission in Baghdad, in addition to the disappearance of Colonel Amir Muhammad Hussein Shirazi in Turkey. Sources said he has defected but Iran says he was kidnapped. He is one of the most important intelligence officers in Al-Quds Brigade in Iraq.

The Revolutionary Guards intelligence had submitted to the joint chiefs of staff of the Iranian armed forces early in March a plan to abduct a number of American and British military to exchange them for the detained Iranian officers, who total 15 officer and intelligence agents. But the Joint Chiefs of Staff called for giving the issue more time and allowing room for diplomatic contacts between the Iraqi and Iranian Foreign Ministries. It was learned that Foreign Minister Manouchehr Muttaqi received promises from his Iraqi counterpart Hushyar Zebari that the five officers arrested in Irbil might be released before the Nowruz feasts (Iranian New Year). But Nowruz was celebrated in 21 March and no news came about the said officers except for a phone call one of them had with his wife in the presence of a representative from the International Reed Cross. It was then that instructions were issued to the units of the Guards and the Marine Base at Khurramshahr to implement the first part of the plan by laying siege and detaining one of the British Navy patrols charged with combating smuggling. The Revolutionary Guards Navy had undertaken a similar act in June 2004 when it detained two British officers and six soldiers in two boats. They were released on 21 June 2004 after high-level contacts between London and Tehran…

This paper has been the source for much of the recent news about this incident. Who knows if they have reliable contacts or not.

But this sure sounds like a typical Iranian gambit.

Of course Iran will never be called upon to explain how these Iranian officers came to be captured in Iraq in the first place.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, March 25th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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