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U.S. releases nine Iranians in Iraq

  • Story Highlights
  • The U.S. military released nine Iranian detainees to be sent back to Iran
  • Men "no longer a security risk" and have no "intelligence value," military says
  • Two of them tied to Quds Force but are "insignificant" as a threat to Iraq
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military released nine Iranian detainees to the Iraqi government Friday who "no longer pose a security risk" and have no "intelligence value," a military statement said.

The nine will be taken to the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad and then on to Iran. They were among 20 Iranians in U.S. custody.

Two of those released Friday are affiliated with the Iranian military entity called Quds Force, a group recently designated by the United States as a supporter of terrorism, a U.S. military commander said.

Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a military spokesman, briefed reporters on Wednesday and said the two arrested in January in Irbil are "associates" of the Quds Force, an arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The two were among five detained people Smith referred to as the "Irbil Five." However, Smith differentiated between the threat they pose as individuals and the entity they belong to.

Smith said the pair are insignificant and their release demonstrates that people who no longer pose a threat can return to society.

He said there's no link between the release of the nine and an apparent pledge made by Iranian officials to stop support for insurgents from Iran.

Last month, the United States announced sanctions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its "support for proliferation" and the Quds Force for its "support for terrorism."

The sanctions means "no U.S. citizen or private organization will be allowed to engage in financial transactions with these persons and entities. In addition, any assets that these designees have under U.S. jurisdiction will be immediately frozen." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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