Crossfire War – US General States Iran Has Increased Weapons to Shia Units

Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Baghdad – Damascus Watch – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – El Arish – Ramallah – Damascus – Beirut – Gaza – Baghdad/London – Washington – Jerusalem – Cairo – Amman – Paris – Rome; US General States Iran Has Increased Weapons Support to Shia Militias – Israel Prepares for New Wave of Hamas Attacks – China Defense Minister Meets Chief of Staff of Pakistan Air Force – Comprehensive Strategic Partnership – Target India

Night Watch: BAGHDAD – “You know, I have lost 146 soldiers, mainly those who were killed by Iranian munitions, either by Iranian rockets or by Iranian explosively formed penetrators (EFP), all of which are directly traceable to Iran.” That was a quote from U. S. Major-General Rick Lynch in discussing the new impact of the improved, more sophisticated and powerful new weapons Shia militias are now able to use and are the direct result of Tehran’s strategy of defeating the occupation. EFP’s are designed to penetrate tank armor. And this on the eve of more fighting as the head of the Mahdi Army, Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is threatening “open war”. The Gulf-Times/AFP report Major-General Lynch is U. S. commander for central Iraq which includes the Shia provinces: Babal, Karbala, Najaf and Wasit. He and his unit have been based in Iraq since April 2007 and that the earlier rockets militias used were not effective, but that has since changed. “We are seeing increases in Iranian influence…the number of attacks that are directly attributed to Iranian influence have indeed increased. The number of EFP attacks have increased, the number of Iranian rocket attacks have indeed increased, the amount of Iranian weapons I am finding on the battlefield has increased. The amount of Shia extremists who tie their training back to Iran have indeed increased.” [GULFTIMES]

Lynch mentioned large numbers of caches of weapons and ammunition bearing Iranian markings have been found. A recent example his troops found in one place “enough components for 1,100 EFP’s directly traceable to Iran.” And that while the previous rockets were “ineffective…now there is a difference. Now they have sophisticated launch systems.” Approximately 600 rockets and mortar shells were fired at the International Green Zone between March 23-April 12 with Iranian markings. In recent weeks Lynch’s troops detained 25 fighters which had been trained in Iran or by groups connected to Iran. During interrogation, “They say we were trained in Iran or we were trained by Iranians in Iraq or we were trained by Iraqi surrogates who had been trained in Iran who have come back and trained us.” This confirms my suspicions that the Mahdi Army and other Shia militias are an extension of Iran’s military as Hezbollah is in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Gaza – The Jerusalem Post reports the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is preparing for more attacks by Hamas and Palestinian militants similar to the attack Saturday at the Kerem Shalom terminal with three Hamas vehicles led by an armored car. The armored car broke through the barrier as was followed by two jeeps each packed with 300 kilograms of explosives. Hamas has stated this is part of its campaign to break the Israeli siege of Gaza and Hamas is threatening, actually planning to do the same thing against the Rafah Terminal controlled by Egypt which Hamas exploded in January. [JPOST]

Damascus – As Hamas representatives Mahmoud a-Zahar and Siad Siyam met with the loose cannon, former U. S. President Jimmy Carter in Damascus for a media show of peace Debka reports both men then went to a meeting with Syrian and Iranian intelligence officers to plan increased attacks against both Israel and Egypt. The Iranian officers are based permanently in Damascus, which has become the war planning center for the Islamic Axis of Iran-Syria as they plan to increase regional fighting. Also present were Hamas officials Khaled Meshaal and Mussa Abu Marzuk where they received support for Hamas’ ultimatum against Egypt over the Rafah Terminal and to plan more attacks against the border crossings controlled by Israel. Qassam rocket fire and mortar barrages will also be increased and it may have been decided for Hamas to start using more regularly its longer range and more powerful Katyusha rocket, knowing it will elicit more of a response from Israel. I assume Hamas has been told they will not face the threat alone. That first Hezbollah enters the war in the name of supporting Palestinian people then Syria then Iran enter. [DEBKA]

Beijing – China – Pakistan seem to be preparing joint air operations against India with the meeting in Beijing between China Defense Minister Liang Guanglie and Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Air Force Tanvir Mahmoud Ahmad. Xinhua reports Tanvir stated Pakistan is promoting comprehensive strategic partnership with China which I suspect means Beijing-Islamabad are planning joint operations against a country they both have territorial disputes with-India. Pakistan’s wars with India, since 1947, are well known but perhaps China’s disputes with India less so. In October 1962 China invaded India’s northeast state of Arunachal Pradesh for one month with the fighting extending south to Assam state on the Bay of Bengal. Years of entrenched negotiations between Beijing/Delhi have led nowhere and with Islamabad being such an active supporter of Islamic groups fighting India in Kashmir, another major war between Pakistan/India could take place again this year and it seems China has decided to join it, because in Nov. 2006 Beijing’s Ambassador to Delhi stated publicly northeast India is Chinese territory. The following month reported China-Pakistan conducted joint maneuvers just west of Kashmir and even seemed to have established a joint command. Now this meeting in Beijing which will lead to a joint command between their air forces. [XINHUA]

Fighting and attempts at infiltration usually increase in Kashmir in May due to the melting of the snow and it was Pakistan President-General Pervez Musharraf who planned the Kargil probe in May 1999 which nearly set off the fourth war since 1947.

Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.