The US military in Iraq has said it is to release 9 Iranian detainees, including two of those arrested in Irbil in January and alleged to be members of the Quods Force.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari hailed the announcement, saying it was a confidence-building measure that would encourage more productive talks between Iran, Iraq and the United States on improving security in Iraq.Which means the military didn't have squat on these people. There have been no trials, no public explanations of evidence or guilt, no details - no nothing. Just innuendo and unproven accusations that will be taken as gospel fact by the loyal pro-war base.
"We have tried very hard with the American military and the embassy to release them. We are very pleased now that a decision has been made," Mr Zebari told Reuters by telephone.
The detention of the five Iranians in Arbil in January contributed to a significant rise in tensions between Iran and Iraq, as well as between Tehran and Washington.
"It is our intent to release nine Iranians currently in custody in the near future. They will be released in the coming days," Smith told a news conference. "Two of them were detained in Arbil in January of this year."
US forces have said the five detained in Arbil were held on suspicion of being members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elite Qods force. Iran insists they are diplomats and has demanded their release.
"These individuals have been assessed to be of no continuing value, nor do they pose a further threat to Iraqi security," Smith said.