Reports from the United States say more than a dozen operatives working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Iran and Lebanon have been caught, in what's being described as a possibly serious setback for U.S. intelligence operations in the region.
Reports quoting current and former U.S. officials said the Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hizballah had succeeded in identifying and arresting informants who were working for the CIA.
The U.S. considers Hizballah to be a terrorist group closely allied with Iran.
The reports say that separately, counterintelligence officers in Iran had also succeeded in uncovering the identities of alleged CIA informants there.
The U.S. television network ABC reports that the U.S. government fears the U.S. operatives will be or have been executed following their capture.
The Associated Press says the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon has officially denied the report, and no other official U.S. comment was available.
Hizballah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, announced in a television broadcast in June that at least two CIA spies who had infiltrated the ranks of the organization had been caught.
compiled from agency reports