LDT: More on the briefing
LOU DOBBS: American troops in Iraq are being killed by sophisticated weapons made in Iran, and the U.S. military says the Iranian government is behind it. Iran denies those accusations and instead accuses the United States of fabricating evidence.
House Democrats are trying to stop President Bush from sending more troops to Iraq. Can they force the president's hand? The powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Ike Skelton, will be here tonight.
And Michael Ware is reporting from Baghdad tonight on what the U.S. is calling a growing body of evidence that Iran is killing our troops in Iraq.
Suzanne Malveaux reporting from the White House...
We begin with Michael Ware in Baghdad.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In a background briefing in Baghdad that could not be taped, by three officials who cannot be named, the U.S. escalated its campaign of accusation against Tehran. The U.S. officials laid out what they call a growing body of evidence that a largely covert Iranian special forces unit, arms, trains and advises Shia insurgents attacking coalition soldiers.
That unit is an element of the Revolutionary Guard Corps: its elite Quds Force which, the U.S. officials claim, takes its orders directly from Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself.
Insisting the Qods Force is systematically funneling insurgents a range of arms from mortars to sniper rifles, grenades to machine guns, the American officials highlighted one weapon in particular they blame the Qods Force for supplying: a roadside bomb pioneered by Lebanese Hezbollah, so powerful it punches through the heaviest American armor with ease. Called an explosively formed penetrator, or EFP, the officials say the device has killed at least 170 soldiers since it first emerged on the Iraqi battlefield in 2004.
But, like much of the declassified information released during the briefing, it's a claim U.S. officials have made many times before, insisting one of the bombs' key components needs fine machine-tooling that could be traced back to Iran, as can markings on mortars and explosives found inside Iraq which show they were manufactured by Tehran.
While admitting there is no smoking gun of Iranian complicity, a Defense Department intelligence analyst says this is a sophisticated Iranian campaign being fought through a host of surrogate groups maximizing Iran's deniability. If so, it's precisely the same kind of proxy war techniques America's CIA used so successfully with Islamic allies against the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
WARE: And it's armaments like these that the U.S. military is hoping to stop. These are the tailfins of Iranian-supplied mortars that CNN has obtained. The U.S. military used several of these as examples of the kind of munitions that the Revolutionary Guard Quds Force is supplying across the border to Shia militias -- Lou.
DOBBS: Michael Ware reporting from Baghdad.