Middle East

Iraq tells Iran no arms to Syria to cross its territory

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh. (AFP PHOTO/ALI AL-SAADI)

BAGHDAD: Iraq has informed Iran that it will not permit arms shipments to Syria to pass through or over its territory, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Saturday.

Baghdad informed Tehran through the Iranian ambassador "that Iraq will not permit the use of its air space or its territory for the transit of any arms cargo to Syria," Dabbagh said in a statement.

"No cargo of arms nor munitions coming from any party or country will pass the air space or borders of Iraq, and no combatant from any side will have the right of passage to Syria," he added.

On Friday, the United States said it was concerned about Iranian cargo flights over Iraq to Syria, saying it has warned Iraq they might contain arms that could be used by Damascus to crush protests.

"We are consulting with Iraq about them and we are 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," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

The Iraqis were also being told "that any arms sent to the Syrian regime at this time would obviously be used in the brutal repression that the regime is exacting on its own people."

"So we are in consultation with Iraq... encouraging the government of Iraq to be absolutely sure about any cargo that is overflying its territory."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki insisted Friday that all items transported through Iraq to Syria were humanitarian goods, after a US newspaper reported Iran was moving weapons to Syria via Iraqi air space.

"Iraq does not allow its land or its skies to be a passage for weapons in any direction, and from any source," Maliki said in a statement released by his office.

He said shipments going through Iraq were "only carrying humanitarian goods, not weapons."

Maliki said Iraq was "pushing towards finding a political solution to the Syrian situation... (and) to avoid more bloodshed."

The Washington Times reported on Thursday that Iraq refused several US requests to stop Iranian cargo flights bound for Syria, citing an unnamed US official.





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