Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008

Iran cuts support for Iraq groups

US Marine near Falluja looking for IEDs
US military says Iranian bombs have caused large numbers of US casualties

There are signs that Iran has reduced its support for militant Shia groups in Iraq, say US and Iraqi officials.

The US says there has been a big drop in the number of Iranian-made bombs in recent months, suggesting Iran has decided to rein in militants.

An Iraqi official said Iran had restrained its activities because it believed that the US-Iraqi security pact posed no threat to Tehran.

Iran government has consistently denied arming or funding Iraqi militants.

Lt Gen Thomas Metz said the numbers of Iranian-made Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) in Iraq decreased in recent months.

These are a type of shaped charge that is particularly effective at penetrating armour.

"They have represented over time probably 5% of improvised Explosive Devices, and would represent as much as 35% of the casualties," Gen Metz said.

"We must assume that someone has made a decision on the Shia side connected to Iran to bring them down," he added.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabagh, speaking in Washington, said that there had been an apparent change in Tehran's posture toward the insurgency.

"The assurances that were being given by [Iraqi PM Nouri] Maliki that the Status of Forces Agreement is not going to be against themů helped reducing the temperature with Iran," he added.

On 27 November the Iraqi parliament voted to accept a deal on the future presence of US troops in the country. The decision means US troops will leave Iraqi streets by mid-2009 and will quit Iraq entirely by the end of 2011.

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