Iran rejects claims about sending arms to Syria

Iran rejects claims about sending arms to Syria
Wed Jul 17, 2013 23:04:36

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Araqchi has dismissed reports quoting Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying that Tehran may be sending weapons to Syria through Iraq’s airspace.

“So far, the Iraqi government has conducted intrusive inspections of some Iranian planes bound for Syria, and in all cases it was officially announced that these planes were not carrying military equipment, while in some cases they [Iraqi officials] said [the planes] were carrying food and medicine,” Araqchi said on Wednesday.

Araqchi said high-ranking Iraqi officials and the inspection team have repeatedly said the same thing about Iranian planes heading for Syria.

In an interview published by the London-based Asharq al-Awsat on June 13, the Iraqi minister said Baghdad started to inspect Iranian and Syrian planes at random last September, adding, “We have found non-lethal materials, like equipment, medicine and food.”

However, Zebari claimed, “Those planes might be carrying other stuff, but we have neither the deterrent means, nor the air defenses and fighter jets to prevent ... arms shipments.”

Under pressure from the United States, Baghdad has searched several Syria-bound Iranian planes.

In April, Baghdad checked Iranian aircraft for three consecutive days. The searches, however, found nothing but humanitarian aid and commercial goods.

In October 2012, Iraq forced a Damascus-bound Iran Air cargo plane from Tehran to land and searched it for weapons, but allowed it to continue as no prohibited items were found onboard.

The foreign-sponsored unrest in Syria has taken its toll on the lives of many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel, since March 2011.

HH/HH

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