Airstrikes on Iranian-Run Training Camps Needed, Says Ambassador

By Evan Moore | July 7, 2008 | 8:33pm EDT

( - There is evidence that the Islamic Republic of Iran is providing support to insurgent groups in Iraq that has resulted in the death of U.S. servicemen there and the further destabilization of the country, according to U.S. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the Third Infantry Division.

In response, a U.S. foreign policy expert argues that the U.S. should launch an airstrike on Iranian facilities that provide training and material support to those insurgents.

In an interview Apr. 29 on the nationally syndicated Hugh Hewitt radio show, Maj. Gen. Lynch, reporting from Iraq, said: "There's so much Iranian influence in my area and in the rest of Iraq. Now, right now, I've got 25 people detained -- that we detained towards the end of March -- who were either trained in Iran, trained by Iranians here in Iraq, or trained by Iraqi surrogates."

He added that the material aid given to Iraqi insurgents was quite strong, and easily traceable. "I've lost 147 soldiers under my command since I've been here in the last fourteen months," said Lynch. "Many of those soldiers were killed by explosive-formed penetrators that are all traced back to Iran, or by Iranian rockets."

"We've got detailed biometrics," said Lynch. "We check for fingerprints, and we traced those back to where they started. We're following the money back to Iran. We're following the munitions back to Iran, and then looking for those people that are trained in Iran as well."

"I'm very confident that what I'm coming across are Iranian munitions," he said. "I mean, those are traced back into Iran by machine markings and by lot numbers. ... It really comes down to two issues. It comes to training the Shia extremists, and supplying the Shia extremists with munitions, and oh, by the way, with money as well."

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told The Telegraph on May 6 that a retaliatory strike on Iranian-run facilities that are training Iraqi insurgents was warranted.

"This is a case where the use of military force against a training camp to show the Iranians we're not going to tolerate this is really the most prudent thing to do," Bolton said. "Then the ball would be in Iran's court to draw the appropriate lesson to stop harming our troops."

Further, the CBS Evening News reported Apr. 29 that the United States was re-evaluating strike plans for Iran in response to the Islamic Republic's behavior in Iraq, and it's increasingly belligerent posture towards America overall.

Though he later added that such plans were part of a routine re-evaluation, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told CBS that "what the Iranians are doing is killing American servicemen and -women inside Iraq."

In an interview with Cybercast News Service , Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan Administration, and now senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal group, warned that the costs of making such a strike would be high.

"If you strike the camps, what Iran would do, basically, is step up their involvement in Iraq and make it much more deadly," said Korb. "They're doing enough, now, to keep the pot boiling, but not enough to create a full-fledged civil war. ... They can make you pay a very, very high price for this, and it's not going to stop."

"You have to remember that it's much easier to start a war than to stop a war," said Korb.

Korb thinks that Iranian involvement in Iraq is "coordinated by the ruling clerics, who basically are trying to make the United States pay such a high price, that they get out."

Korb warned that an attack on Iranian-run facilities could inflame Iranian nationalist sentiments and rally support to President Ahmadinejad in the upcoming presidential elections there.

He added that an attack could also increase the price of a barrel of oil to $200, approximately $80 more than its current level, due to the "risk premium" of the region increasing the worldwide price of oil.

The Telegraph noted that "Mr. Bolton said that striking Iran would represent a major step towards victory in Iraq. While he acknowledged that the risk of a hostile Iranian response harming American's overseas interests existed, he said the damage inflicted by Tehran would be 'far higher' if Washington took no action."

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