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US Troops Vulnerable To Iranian Attack In Iraq
This story illustrates another problem with keeping our troops in Iraq indefinitely. One Hugh Fitzgerald has warned of for years. They are sitting ducks for Iranian bombs. We can be certain that Iran has the Green Zone and any other semi-permanent US installation in Iraq within the crosshairs of their missiles and high on the target list for their bombers.
LATimes: WASHINGTON -- While the White House dwells on Iran's nuclear program, senior U.S. diplomats and military officers fear that an incident on the ground in Iraq is a more likely trigger for a possible confrontation with the Islamic Republic.
In one sign of their concern, U.S. military policymakers are weighing whether to release some of the Iranian personnel they have taken into custody in Iraq. Doing so could reduce the risk that radical Iranian elements might seize U.S. military or diplomatic personnel to retaliate, thus raising the danger of an escalation, a senior Defense official said.
The Bush administration has charged that Iran is funding anti-American fighters in Iraq and sending in sophisticated explosives to bleed the U.S. mission, although some of the administration's charges are disputed by Iraqis as well as the Iranians. Still, the diplomatic and military officials say they fear that the overreaching of a confident Iran, combined with growing U.S. frustrations, could set off a dangerous collision.
An unintended clash over Iraq "is very much on people's minds," said an American diplomat, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly express his views.
A U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure, despite recent heated rhetoric from the White House, today "seems more remote," he added.
An on-the-ground clash could be sparked, say current and former officials, by a confrontation along the 900-mile-long border between Iran and Iraq, or in the waters of the Persian Gulf. Or it could be ignited over one of the periodic U.S. attempts to arrest those the Americans assert are members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iraq.
The U.S. military might also retaliate if a bombing in Iraq killed a large number of U.S. troops and there was clear evidence of Iranian involvement, U.S. officials have warned.