Jason Groves and Kirsty Buchanan
THE Sunday Express today reveals the bloody truth of Iran’s proxy war against Britain: it is the single biggest cause of combat deaths in southern Iraq.
Improvised explosive devices and roadside bombs smuggled over the border into southern Iraq have claimed the young lives of half those Britons killed in action in the past two years.
Defence analysts warn that hardliners in Tehran are now bankrolling both Shi’ite and Sunni militias in the hopes of creating chaos in southern Iraq and a power vacuum that Iran will fill once British troops pull out.
Since the 2003 invasion the UK death toll has reached 140. Almost half of those, 66, have occurred in the last two years – the date from which Iranian hardliners began exporting their deadly knowledge to Basra’s militia.
Research by the Sunday Express reveals that since 2005 almost 50 per cent of all British deaths in Iraq have been caused by explosive devices made in Tehran – claiming the lives of 30 servicemen and women.
Iranian money and deadly know-how is also believed to be responsible for a third of all American combat deaths – making it the second biggest killer in northern Iraq behind hostile fire.
As the war of words between the UK and Iran intensified in the wake of the British hostage crisis, four more families were today struggling to come to terms with loss after an Iranian-made bomb hit a Warrior patrol vehicle on the outskirts of Basra.
The slaying came the day after gloating Iranian President Ahmadinejad announced the return of 15 British captives as an Easter “gift”.
His gesture was a propaganda coup for Tehran and a humiliation for Britain but relief over the captives’ safe return was overwhelmed by fury over Iran’s latest butchery in Basra.
Tony Blair stopped short of pointing the finger at Tehran for the Warrior ambush but accused the regime of “financing, arming and supporting” attacks on US and UK troops.