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NATO: We Have Proof Islamic Training Camps Still Active
Claims 10 Training Camps Still Operating
in Central Bosnia Despite Bosnian Denials

(SARAJEVO, March 27 —AP) The NATO-led force said Tuesday it has proof that Iranians are training Bosnian government soldiers, despite President Alija Izetbegovic’s insistence that there are no Iranian soldiers in the Bosnian army. "A threat does remain from foreign forces in Bosnia," said U.S. Navy Capt. Mark van Dyke, NATO’s chief spokesman. "It’s a threat from terrorist activity, and it’s also a violation of the Dayton peace agreement. We want to see immediate action to remove those forces," he said.

Alija IzetbegovicIzetbegovic, in a letter published Monday, said some 50 to 60 former Iranian soldiers remain in Bosnia, but they became civilians after their military unit disbanded in January. He and senior Bosnian army officials deny that Iranian soldiers or instructors are working with the Bosnian army. The dispute leaves NATO and the Bosnian government at loggerheads over a key military issue, and threatens $100 million in U.S. aid that the Bosnian army desperately needs to train and equip its forces.

Under the Dayton accord, all foreign military forces were to leave Bosnia by Jan. 19. In mid-February, however, French troops arrested three Iranians when they raided a military training camp in central Bosnia. "We have information which would lead us to believe there are other sites, and if we find them we will take similar action," van Dyke said.

Secret Camps in North-Central Bosnia
Western intelligence sources believe there are up to 10 small, secret training camps, most of them in central or north-central Bosnia. NATO sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said scores of Iranians, mostly top military instructors, remain in the country under the umbrella of the Agency for Investigation and Documentation, a new intelligence agency that is directly responsible to Izetbegovic.

Izetbegovic insisted in his letter that the foundation and the work of the agency is in accordance with the Dayton agreement. The letter was written to U.S. Sens. Bob Dole and Joseph Lieberman, who demanded that cooperation between Iran and Bosnia be stopped. In the letter, Izetbegovic also pledged that Bosnia would remain a multiethnic, open society committed to human rights and democracy. Without specifically explaining, he said the 50 to 60 former Iranian soldiers could not go home.

"It is not in accordance with the moral code of our nation to expel people who have fought with us and have no place to go because they cannot return to their countries," the letter said. But Col. John Kirkwood, another NATO spokesman, said, "We have evidence there are foreign forces here beyond those discussed in the letter." Over the course of the 3½-year war, about 2,000 foreigners fought in Bosnia, according to the latest Western military estimates. They were mainly from Islamic countries, but also included American, British, French and German mercenaries. Most left after the peace agreement was signed in December.

Camps, Prisoners are Major Blocks to Peace
NATO says the presence of foreign forces and failure to release prisoners of war are the two major stumbling blocks to full military compliance with the peace accord. There was no movement on prisoner releases Tuesday, despite expectations that the Bosnian Serbs would free 28 POWs. Anne-Sophie Bonefeld, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, singled out the Bosnian Serbs, who have not released a single POW since pledging to do so in Geneva two weeks ago.

The Bosnian government freed 109 Serbs on Saturday and Bosnian Croats released 10 Bosnian Serbs on Monday. In all, 152 prisoners were scheduled for release by all parties, the Red Cross said. Sixty-two other prisoners were being held by the former warring parties for investigation of war crimes. The international community has threatened economic sanctions if the prisoners are not freed by Sunday.

Amor Masovic, head of the Bosnian government commission for the POW exchange, met Tuesday with his Bosnian Serb counterpart, Dragan Bulajic, in an attempt to work out the POWs’ release. According to a Bosnian government official, speaking anonymously, the meeting was a failure.

Additional resources
Iran Online
March 26 · NATO Blasts Bosnia on Islamic Troops In Country
March 14 · U.S. Withholds Bosnian Arms Package Until Iranians Leave
March 8 · No Arms for Bosnia Until Iranians Depart
March 8 · Iranian Freedom Fighters Still in Iran
March 3 · In Tehran, Prime Mininster Says Bosnia Will Remember Iran
Feb 21 · Iranians Found in Bosnian "Terrorism School" Back in Iran

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