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US: New Task Force to Counter Iran's Sway in Iraq
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The US military has launched a secret task force to break up Iranian influence in Iraq, The US News and World Report said Friday.

The special operation mission, known as Task Force 16, was created late 2006 to target Iranians, who were trafficking arms and training Iraqi militia forces, the magazine reported on its website.

The operation is modeled on Task Force 15, a clandestine unit of Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force soldiers, and CIA operatives with a mission to capture or kill al-Qaida operatives in Iraq.

It is the Task Force 15 that killed al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi, last June.

The new Task Force 16 is part of an escalation of military countermeasures against Iran, authorized by US President George W. Bush, to strike back at what US officials describe as a "widespread web of Iranian influence in Iraq" that includes providing weapons, training, and money to militias.

However, some US officials also said that in addition to military measures, the United States needs to pursue diplomatic tracks and emphasizes the importance of trying to open a dialogue with Iran.

(Xinhua News Agency January 20, 2007)

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