US says seizes Iraqis linked to Iran Qods force

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BAGHDAD, Sep 17 (Reuters) US forces captured 12 Iraqis in Baghdad today suspected of smuggling weapons from Iran, including one linked to Tehran's elite Qods force, the US military said in a statement.

The suspects were involved in ''production and distribution of deadly explosively formed penetrators'', a particularly lethal form of roadside bomb.

''Those in custody are believed to be involved in smuggling and storing weapons from Iran used to attack Iraqi civilians and the security forces,'' the statement said.

One of them had links to the Qods force, part of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, it said.

U.S. officials say the explosively formed penetrators, which have claimed the lives of scores of US soldiers, are being built in Iran and then smuggled into Iraq to be assembled there.

Iran has denied such charges and blames the 2003 US-led Iraq invasion for the sectarian violence between majority Shi'ite and minority Sunni Arabs that has killed tens of thousands.

The commander of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said last week that the flow of Iranian weapons into Iraq has increased.

REUTERS AM ND2140

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