(photo credit: Courtesy IDF spokesman.)
Baghdad has warned Israel against violating its airspace in order to strike Iran's nuclear facilities, Hussein al-Shahristani, Iraq's deputy prime minister responsible for energy affairs told AFP on Monday.
Shahrishtani said that the US had already assured Iraqi officials that it would not use Iraqi airspace in order to attack Iran.
"The (Americans) have assured us that they will never violate Iraqi airspace or Iraqi sovereignty by using our airspace to attack any of our neighbors," Shahristani told AFP.
"We have also warned Israel that if they violate Iraqi airspace, they will have to bear the consequences," he added.
Shahrishtani said that Iraq, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, passed the warning to the Jewish state through a third country. He failed to elaborate on what the Iraqi response to an Israeli incursion of its airspace would be, saying, "Obviously, Iraq wouldn't be disclosing its reaction, to allow Israel to take that into account."
The comments marked the first instance in which Iraq has issued a public warning to Israel over a potential attack against Iran. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is a Shi'ite who has increased economic ties and cooperation with Iran in recent years.
The New York Times reported in August
that Iraq had been helping Iran skirt financial sanctions imposed because of its nuclear program.
In some cases, Iraqi government officials are turning a blind eye to trade with Iran, while other officials in Baghdad are directly profiting from the activities -- with several of them having close ties to Maliki, the Times