A top Iranian lawmaker denounced the United States on Saturday for allowing its troops to kill or capture Iranians in Iraq whom U.S. forces believe pose a threat.
“This is support for terrorism. It is against all recognized international treaties to order the death of nationals of another country in a foreign land,” Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament’s Foreign Policy and National Security Committee, said on state television.
On Friday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said U.S. forces “are authorized to go after those who are trying to kill them.”
The more aggressive policy — evolving over a period of months — was described as the result of mounting evidence that Iran is supporting terrorists inside Iraq and is a major supplier of bombs and other weapons used to target U.S. forces.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told journalists Saturday that “bullying and threatening” were part of the U.S. strategy in Iraq and said Iran was a “part of resolving Iraq’s problems, not a part of the problem itself.”
At least eight Iranians have been detained in Iraq recently, including two diplomats in a Dec. 21 roundup. They were interrogated and released to Iranian officials eight days later.
The six others were captured Jan. 11 at an Iranian liaison office in the northern city of Irbil. One was released and five are still believed in U.S. custody.
The U.S. ambassador to Iraq said last week that one of the detained Iranians was the director of operations for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds faction, the organization responsible for funding and arming Iraqi militants.