Iranians detained in Iraq raid could be released

Five Iranians detained during an American raid in northern Iraq last January could be released as early as next week, Iran's ambassador said Wednesday. Hassan Kazemi Qomi said US officials had informed Iranian delegates at a weekend security conference here that they were in "the final stage" of the investigation into the case. Qomi said he hoped the five could be released before the Iranian New Year, which falls on March 21. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman referred all questions to the State Department, while a State Department official said reporters should ask the Pentagon about the matter. The US military said the five Iranians, who were arrested in the northern city of Irbil, were part of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard force that provides funds, weapons and training to Shiite militias.