Iran blamed for death of 196 U.S. soldiers, wounding of 861 others during Iraq war

U.S. soldiers patrol a street in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk on July 20, 2011.Reuters

Iran is responsible for the death of nearly 200 U.S. soldiers, comprising 14 percent of U.S. forces in Iraq, between 2003 and 2011, according to a report released by the U.S. Central Command.

Iran is also responsible for wounding nearly 1,000 other U.S. soldiers during the eight-year period, said the new disclosures from a partially declassified government report, according to Fox News.

The number of U.S. casualties resulting from Iranian terrorism was divulged for the first time last week by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas during a hearing that tackled the Obama administration's failure to prosecute terrorists directly responsible for the deaths of Americans.

According to Cruz, at least 196 U.S. service members fighting in Iraq were killed directly as a result of Iranian-made explosively formed penetrators or EFPs, which the country manufactured and supplied to Shiite militias across the border in Iraq.

The EFPs were also the same device that wounded another 861 U.S. soldiers. The report said a total 1,534 attacks were carried out on U.S. military members over the same period.

"That blood is on Iran's hands," the Texas Republican and presidential candidate said. He then blasted the Obama administration's decision to not prosecute terrorists who have murdered American citizens and troops abroad, Fox News reported.

U.S. military leaders disclosed in testimony before the Senate that Iranian terror activities have claimed the lives of around 500 U.S. soldiers, which accounts for at least 14 percent of all American casualties in Iraq from 2003 to 2011.

In a report by the Military Times, Marine Corp. Gen. Joseph Dunford was also quoted as saying that the estimated number of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who were killed by Iranian activities stands at 500.

"We weren't always able to attribute the casualties we had to Iranian activity, although many times we suspected it was Iranian activity even though we didn't necessarily have the forensics to support that,'' said Dunford.

The U.S. Defense Department does not specifically track casualties linked to Iran and the 500 estimate is a ballpark figure based on intelligence assessments, said a defence official.

The Iranian-made EFPs first appeared in Iraq in 2005 and for years were the most lethal weapon that American troops faced during the eight-year Iraq war, said the Times.

The Pentagon says the explosive devices are a "hallmark weapon" of Iran's Quds force, a paramilitary group that operates outside of Iran's borders. It has been determined that only Iranian-backed operatives use these weapons in Iraq.

"Unlike the typical improvise explosive devices U.S. troops encountered there, the EFPs used more sophisticated technology and required more skills to produce them. Also known as "shaped'' explosives, they used curved copper plates to direct or "shape'' the bomb blast,'' it said.