'Diplomat says Saudis are arming Syrian rebels'

By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 17, 2012 18:22

Report of Saudi armaments comes as Iraq tells Iran it will not permit arms shipments to Syria to cross its airspace.

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An Iran Air plane is seen in Tehran [file photo]

Iran Air plane Iranian plane 370 (R). (photo credit: Morteza Nikoubazl / Reuters)

Saudi Arabia is arming Syrian rebels locked in a year-long rebellion against Syrian President Bashar Assad, a senior Arab diplomat told AFP Saturday.

Calling the shipments an effort to stop the bloodshed in Syria, the diplomat clarified that "Saudi military equipment is on its way to Jordan to arm the the Free Syrian Army," according to the report.

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Also Saturday, an Iraqi government spokesman said his country would  not permit Iran to ferry arms to Syria through or over its territory, AFP reported.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the Iranian ambassador was told "Iraq will not permit the use of its air space or its territory for the transit of any arms cargo to Syria," according to the report.

The United States on Friday said it was in contact with Iraq and encouraging it to ensure no military cargo headed for Syria is transported through Iraqi airspace.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a press briefing that the US was "making the point that any export of arms or related materials from Iran, frankly, to any destination would be a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1747."

Any arms sent to the President Bashar Assad's regime in Syria, she continued, "would obviously be used in the brutal repression that the regime is exacting on its own people."

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At least 27 people were killed and 97 were wounded in two explosions that hit Damascus early Saturday, a Syrian television channel reported.

The explosions killed security force personnel and civilians, state television reported, blaming what it said were terrorists behind the year-long uprising against Assad.

The explosions came two days after the first anniversary of year-long uprising, in which the United Nations says more than 8,000 people have been killed and some 230,000 forced to flee their homes as the violence spreads.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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