debkafile Military Report: Blasts killing 4 British troops in Basra were the Iranian extremists’ rejoinder to the pragmatists who forced release of
Approximately two hours before the freed British sailors and marines flew out of Tehran for home, formally released by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after 12 days’ in captivity, a patrol of two British armored vehicles was struck by a roadside bomb trap northwest of Basra and 4 soldiers killed.
In London, Tony Blair said there was a clear link to elements in Iran who support terrorism in Iraq.
Two powerful roadside bombs were planted on both sides of their patrol route very near an Iraqi army checkpoint in Hayaniya, a stronghold of Shiite cleric Mogtada Sadr’s pro-Iranian Mehdi Army militia on the northwestern outskirts of Basra.
Since the British lookout had not warned the patrol of its danger, the bombs were presumed to have been planted by the Iraqi soldiers who would not have aroused suspicion. The Iraqi troops were indeed arrested. The bombs themselves were of Iranian manufacture, as are 95% of all such devices which explode in Iraq.
debkafile‘s Tehran sources report the Revolutionary Guards used their deep penetration of the British-controlled Basra to stage a “serious incident” that would prove to Washington, London, Iraq – and rivals at home – that Iran’s radical elements had the last word in the crisis.
They were showing their resolve not to let the pragmatists, who had insisted on liberating the Britons for the sake of continuing engagement with Washington on Iran’s nuclear program, get away with any concessions to the West. It was a demonstration of defiance against the path of engagement with Washington and Europe advocated on the nuclear issue by supreme ruler Ayatollah Khamenei and head of the supreme security council, Ali Larijani.
From the start of the crisis, debkafile‘s exclusive sources in Tehran have followed the debate on the issue splitting the Iranian leadership. Throughout, the president and his Revolutionary Guards following demanded that the crisis with Britain be pushed to its limits to provoke a limited military confrontation with the Americans in support of their British allies in the Persian Gulf. They argued that this showdown should not be delayed into the US was fully prepared. Khamenei forced Ahmadinejad to pardon the Britons and let them go free.
But the debate in the Iranian hierarchy is far from over. Teheran media Thursday morning denounced the Iranian regime for cutting short the British captives’ detention and asking why infidels deserved to be given a gift on the Prophet’s birth anniversary.