Monday, March 05, 2007

Perspective: Iran war weapons fuel Iraq insurgency

MUNTHERIA BORDER CROSSING, Iraq — Mud roads crisscross green hills between palm groves. Snowcapped mountains rise in the distance across the Iranian border. Donkeys stroll along footpaths, carrying the region's harvest — land mines.

Risking their lives, Iraqi shepherds are increasingly venturing into these deadly fields to dig up mines planted during the Iran-Iraq war two decades ago, according to U.S. soldiers, who say insurgents then use the mines to fashion roadside bombs that kill American troops.

With Iraq's economy still struggling, shepherds need the money. And the insurgents are looking for more sources of weapons and explosives as the war enters its fifth year.

"They're going out there and farming them," said Capt. Jesse Stewart of Seattle, Wash., who runs a training school for Iraqi border guards at this border station 90 miles northeast of Baghdad. "Shepherds are digging them up and selling them on the black market."

Read the rest at the Houston Chronicle