Middle East

No arms being smuggled into Syria via Iraq: Maliki

Czech Republic's Prime Minister Petr Necas, right, shake hands with his Iraqi counterpart Nouri al-Maliki, left, after their press conference in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

PRAGUE: Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Thursday no arms were being smuggled across his country's 600-kilometre (375-mile) border into conflict-torn Syria.

"We stress that no weapons go to Syria via Iraq," he told reporters in Prague.

"We have placed the army on our border to prevent the delivery of weapons to Syria," Maliki added, calling on countries supplying arms to Syria to "look for positive solutions" instead.

"All weapons supplied are used against the Syrian people, and this is bad for the entire region," he said.

Last week, Iraq stopped and searched a Syria-bound Iranian cargo plane for weapons but allowed it to continue as no prohibited items were found.

And on September 21, Baghdad denied permission for a North Korean aircraft to cross its airspace on its way to Syria over suspicions it would carry arms and advisers there.

The United States has pushed Baghdad to deliver on pledges to stop flights by Iran over its territory, which are feared to be carrying arms to the Syrian regime.

Turkey said Thursday it had seized "objectionable" and "illegal cargo" from a Syrian plane which it intercepted en route from Moscow to Damascus on Wednesday.

Maliki said the only solution to the conflict in Syria was a peaceful one, calling on "groups of the Syrian nation to sit and find a solution."

His comments came following talks with Czech officials focused on a potential deal for Baghdad to buy 28 Czech-made subsonic jet fighters.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 32,000 people including babies, children and women have died since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad erupted in March 2011.





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