Militants from the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been training Iraqi militia fighters at a camp near Tehran, The New York Times reported Monday, citing American interrogation reports that the United States has supplied to the Iraqi government.
An American official said the account of Hezbollah’s role was provided by four Shiite militia members who were captured in Iraq late last year and questioned separately, the Times reported.
The Times noted that the U.S. has long charged that the Iranians were training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran, which Iran has consistently denied, and there have been previous reports about Hezbollah operatives in Iraq, but the Americans say the reports of Hezbollah’s role at the Iranian camp offer important details about Iranian assistance to the militias, including efforts Iran appears to be making to train the fighters in unobtrusive ways.
Material from the interrogations was given to the Iraqi government, along with other data about captured Iranian arms, before it sent a delegation to Tehran last week to discuss allegations of Iranian aid to militia groups, the paper reported.
It is not known if the delegation confronted its Iranian hosts with the information.
In a possible effort to be less obtrusive, it appears that Iran is now bringing small groups of Iraqi Shiite militants to camps in Iran, where they are taught how to do their own training, American officials told the Times.
The militants then return to Iraq to teach comrades how to fire rockets and mortars, fight as snipers or assemble explosively formed penetrators, a particularly lethal type of roadside bomb made of Iranian components, officials told the Times, describing the approach as “training the trainers.”