The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East has called on Iran to officially stop helping insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. The officer spoke after visiting soldiers at a U.S. military hospital in Germany who had been wounded in Iraq by high-powered roadside bombs supplied by Iran. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Landstuhl, Germany.
The piece of shrapnel one soldier handed Admiral William Fallon was a good six centimeters long, four centimeters wide and half a centimeter thick. It was made of copper, and surgeons removed it from the soldier's leg a few days ago.
The high-powered bombs supplied to Iraqi insurgents by Iranian agents shoot spinning balls of molten copper toward their targets. This soldier's vehicle had been hit by two of them simultaneously. He has severe injuries to both his legs.
After the visit, Admiral Fallon noted that Iran appears to have slowed, and maybe stopped, its supply of such weapons. But he would like a formal and official end to Iran's involvement in the Iraqi insurgency.
"What we really want to see is [for] Iranian behavior to change openly, for them to stop training these insurgents in the use of these weapons, which we know has been going on, and we know it's going on very recently," said Admiral Fallon. "And that to me would be the kind of signs that we really want to see. We have not seen those yet, and so we're really just left with conjecture as to why the number of incidents is lower than it had been in previous months."
The Iranian arms shipments to Iraq appear to have slowed after a high level meeting between leaders of the two countries. But Admiral Fallon says it is not clear whether the difference is due to a policy change, or other factors.
"I've seen no outward sign that Iran has been cooperating or helpful," he said. "Their rhetoric certainly has not changed."
Admiral Fallon notes that U.S. and Iranian diplomats have met twice to discuss the situation in Iraq, and he expects another meeting before the end of the month.
The admiral says Iranian policy toward Afghanistan's insurgency is also not clear.
"To the best of my knowledge we have not intercepted any arms shipments in recent months," said Admiral Fallon. "But we know that there were some shipments from Iran that certainly came into Afghanistan earlier this year. And we have lots of anecdotal evidence that indicates that they have been training some of these insurgents for Afghan."
Admiral Fallon stopped in Germany after a visit to Afghanistan, where he met with senior leaders and U.S. commanders to work on his plans for the coming year, and beyond.