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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Frees Iranians Held in Iraq

BAGHDAD -- Eight Iranians, including two diplomats, were released by U.S. forces Wednesday in Baghdad after being detained because unauthorized weapons were found in their cars, the U.S. military said.

Four cars carrying the Iranians, as well as seven Iraqis, were stopped at a checkpoint Tuesday evening and then allowed to proceed to a nearby hotel, where they were later taken into custody and questioned, the military said.

Saadi Othman, an adviser to the top U.S. general in Iraq, David Petraeus, told BBC television that the incident was "regrettable" and had "nothing to do" with U.S. President George W. Bush's remarks Tuesday, when he lashed out at Iran for meddling in Iraq's affairs and fomenting instability here.

Videotape shot Tuesday night showed U.S. troops leading blindfolded and handcuffed men out of the hotel in central Baghdad.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini called the U.S. action an act of "interference" in Iraq's internal affairs.

n Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has ordered a six-month suspension of activities by his al-Mahdi Army militia in order to reorganize the force, an aide said Wednesday.

The aide, Sheik Hazim al-Araji, said on Iraqi state television that the goal was to "rehabilitate" the organization, which has reportedly broken into factions, some of which the U.S. maintains are trained and supplied by Iran.