BAGHDAD -- Iranian-backed militias are apparently preparing for major strikes against the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, military officials said.
"In just the past week, Iraqi and coalition forces captured 212 weapons caches across Iraq, two of those inside Baghdad, [which have] growing links to Iranian-backed Special Groups," U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Gregory Smith said.
Officials said that despite assertions by the State Department, Iran has maintained or increased support to the Special Groups. The organization was deemed a splinter of the Iranian-financed Mahdi Army, led by Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Sadr.
Maybe Obama can hope hard enough that they will behave, schedule a 'why can't we all just get along conference'.
"What we're seeing is an increase in the use of weapons by Iranian-backed Special Groups," Smith told a briefing on Sunday.
Smith said the number of weapons caches -- which included rockets and improvised explosive devices -- discovered in January 2008 was the highest in a year. He said the Special Groups, directed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, were hoarding weapons for strikes against the coalition.
"Many of these caches have been in Iraq for some time now," Smith said. "And through, I guess, the vigilance of both our operations and that of the tips by local citizens, we're uncovering more and more of these caches. What's significant is that there are still attacks occurring daily by Iranian-backed Special Groups against coalition and Iraqi security forces."
Officials said the Mahdi Army has maintained its ceasefire declared in August 2007, a move that has resulted in a significant drop in Shi'ite violence. At the same time, they said, Special Groups -- supported, trained and financed by Teheran -- have increased their attacks.
What does that mean?
"Iraqis go to Iran, receive the training, and return back to Iraq and participate as both training other individuals in the conduct of those same skills, but also organizing to conduct operations," Smith said. "The Special Groups' activity has not decreased in recent months. They continue to be probably the most violent of the extremist groups that we're seeing from Shia sects. But the intent of Iran in supporting the training and financing we believe continues."