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article imageIraq expresses worry over proliferation of arms in Syria

By Paul Iddon     Sep 26, 2013 in Politics
Iraq's Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, has expressed fears that arms going into Syria may aid jihadist groups fighting there.
Daily Star Lebanon reports that Zebari was at the Council on Foreign Relations when he said that, “We deplore the efforts of anyone to supply more weapons to any party to the ongoing conflict – whether to support the government of Bashar Assad or one of the rebel forces. This will only perpetuate the conflict and reduce the prospects of a negotiated settlement.”
He went on to contend that, “As long as it is not clear that any rebel-formed government in Damascus will not be controlled by al-Qaeda or al-Nusra, we oppose providing military assistance to any rebel group. We can think of no more perilous developments for our security than the emergence of an al-Qaeda-dominated government on our border.”
Iraq itself is facing its worse surge in sectarian violence since the peak in such violence in 2008. Iraq is also suffering the effects of spillover which is serving to escalate the underlying sectarian tensions in that country.
The U.S is to send small arms to the Syrian opposition and is said to be arranging for the supply of anti-tank missiles to these groups. It has insisted that before these weapons are sent to the rebels that the rebels in question are vetted in an attempt to make sure such weapons don't fall into the hands of the jihadist Mr. Zebari was talking about.
Zee News India reports that Zebari estimates that nearly 10,000 foreign fighters are now in the ranks of the Syrian rebel opposition. Many of them Islamic fundamentalists.
The U.S has accused Baghdad of allowing Iran to fly military supplies to the Assad regime which is its ally. Zebari essentially acknowledged this has been happening but says it is because the Iraqi Air Force is unable to intercept such overflights.
This in turn may see to Baghdad insisting more strongly that the United States agrees to sell and deliver its air force F-16 jet fighter interceptors if it wants to prevent Iran from supplying the Assad regime with munitions.
More about Iraq, Syria, Syrian opposition
 
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