U.S. military releases nine Iranians
BAGHDAD, Iraq — The U.S. military on Friday released nine Iranian citizens, including two described as diplomats, who had been held in American custody in Iraq for as long as three years.
U.S. military officials said the men were no longer considered a threat, but they did not elaborate. Iraqi officials said they did not have access to the men while they were in U.S. custody to judge independently their innocence or guilt but hoped the move would allow for more dialogue between Iran and the United States.
“Reducing this tension between Americans and Iranians is for the benefit of Iraq,” said Ali al-Adeeb, a Shiite legislator from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa party. “Definitely this will help.”
The Iranians were suspected by U.S. officials of being members of the Quds Force, an arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Their detention has been one of several points of dispute between the two countries.
The U.S. military has repeatedly said that the Revolutionary Guard is involved in providing weapons and training for Shiite militias.