Iraq says Iran weapons flights to Syria cannot be stopped without West's help

Iraqi FM calls on international community to enforce UN sanctions on Iran that prohibits its transfer of arms.

By JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
July 13, 2013 16:54
1 minute read.
Soldiers loyal to the Syrian gather in Qusair, after Syrian army took control of the city, June 5.

Assad's Soldiers, Qusair, Flag 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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WASHINGTON – Iraq has recognized that Iran consistently uses its air space to conduct weapons transfers to the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told a local newspaper on Monday, stressing that his country’s military could do nothing to stop them.

“We reject and condemn the transfer of weapons through our airspace and we will inform the Iranian side of that formally.

But we do not have the ability to stop it,” he told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

Iran has provided Assad’s government with non-lethal assistance, as well as light and heavy arms, communications equipment, and Iranian boots on the ground, including officers with extensive military training.

In an apparent plea for assistance, Zebari called on the international community to enforce Security Council sanctions on Iran that prohibit its transfer of such military aid to any country.

“If you imagine these flights breach United Nations Security Council resolutions banning weapons imports and exports from Iran... I invite you in the name of the government to help us stop these flights across Iraqi airspace,” he said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki attempted to close the air corridor used by Iran to deliver weapons to Syria briefly in 2012, after significant US pressure to do so. But it was only a matter of months before the Iranians renewed the flights.

Zebari noted that Iraq has consistently denied requests from Assad for cheap oil, and has not aided his efforts to repel opposition forces fighting for his ouster.

In its training of the Iraqi military, the US military has spent little on rebuilding an Iraqi air force or providing the shaken country with an antiaircraft capability. The US no longer has any planes stationed in the country.

On multiple occasions, Iraq has warned Israel against using its airspace to reach and attack Iranian nuclear facilities.

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