NICOSIA, Cyprus — Iraqi authorities have arrested thousands of Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq on charges of aiding anti-government forces, an Iran-based opposition radio station reported Sunday.
Family members and supporters of the Shiite opposition were targeted in the arrests, according to the Voice of the Iraqi People, the broadcasting arm of the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
"Opposition sources said that (Iraqi security forces) have detained about 2,000 people, including a large number of women, in Al Diwaniyah (province) alone," the station reported. The report was monitored in Nicosia.
The report did not indicate when the arrests occurred, and the claim could not be independently confirmed. Similar reports surfaced about 10 days ago, about the same time the U.S.-led "no-fly" zone took effect to protect rebel Shiites.
Meanwhile, a U.N. inspection team leader said in Baghdad on Sunday that Iraq still refuses to reveal foreign suppliers for its nuclear weapons program and that this represents a serious obstacle to the country's full compliance with Persian Gulf War cease-fire terms.
The team carried out its final inspection Sunday after a week inside Iraq in the first U.N.-mandated search for information about Iraqi weapons since the "no-fly" zone was established. Team leader Maurizio Zifferero said the mission was "successful, quiet and fruitful."
Zifferero, speaking on the eve of the team's departure, said progress was made in arranging long-term monitoring to ensure Iraq does not try to develop a nuclear bomb.
"We established the basis for some important monitoring programs," said Zifferero, an Italian who works for the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.
"We have full cooperation and I am satisfied."
The U.N. inspectors "started from denial of access to sites and now we sit around a table and discuss politely," he said, apparently referring to the July standoff outside Iraq's Agriculture Ministry involving another U.N. team.
But Zifferero said he did not receive any information on procurement and that he will continue to press for it.
"I hope they understand it is in their best interest to provide this information because this is one of the remaining stumbling blocks," he said. "A major one."
The Iraqis have maintained that they have a moral commitment to businesses Baghdad has dealt with not to disclose those dealings.