Syrian President Bashar Assad
Photo: Screenshot
Photo: AP
Chemical weapon (Archive)
Photo: AP

Iranian arms flow into Syria remains uninterrupted

US intelligence sources say activity has been observed around Syrian arms compound, including at chemical weapon storage sites

New evidence regarding Iranian arms transported into Syria has been discovered by western intelligence sources, the New York Times reported on Sunday.


The sources claimed recent activity has also been observed around Syrian chemical weapon storage sites.


According to the newspaper's sources it is still unknown whether Syrian President Bashar Assad plans to use unconventional weapon to remain in power, or whether the movements aim to warn the West against assisting the rebels fighting against his regime.


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The New York Times reported that US efforts to prevent such flow of arms into Syria have so far failed, due to Iraq allowing Iranian cargo planes that are Syria-bound to cross its airspace uninspected.


לוחם בצבא סוריה החופשי בחלב (צילום: רויטרס) 

Syrian rebel in Haleb (Photo: Reuters)


"It’s in some ways similar to what they’ve done before," a senior American official told the New York Times. "But they’re doing some things that suggest they intend to use the weapons. It’s not just moving stuff around. These are different kind of activities."


However, the official added that the Syrians have yet to take blatant steps towards using chemical weapons, such as preparing it for launch using artillery batteries or loading such warheads onto fighter jets.


המורדים ממשיכים בלחימה בחלב  (צילום: רויטרס) 

Syrian rebel in Haleb (Photo: Reuters) 


The report further said that Iraq has become the main route for arms transport to Syria, since Baghdad is unable to control the country's airspace.


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on the matter in September, saying that Iraq's foreign minister is committed to inspecting flights from Iran passing through Iraq on their way to Syria, but only two inspections were actually performed – the last one on October 27.


According to American intelligence reports, Iran might have been tipped off by Iraqi officials prior to the inspections, which could explain why nothing was found on the planes.


גם ילדים מפגינים בחלב (צילום: AP)

Kids protesting in Syria (Photo: AP)


Adding to the United States' frustrations, Iran appears to have been tipped off by Iraqi officials as to when inspections would be conducted, American officials said, citing classified reports by American intelligence analysts.


"The abuse of Iraqi airspace by Iran continues to be a concern," an American official told the NYT. "We urge Iraq to be diligent and consistent in fulfilling its international obligations and commitments, either by continuing to require flights over Iraqi territory en route to Syria from Iran to land for inspection or by denying over flight requests for Iranian aircraft going to Syria."



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פרסום ראשון: 12.02.12, 16:38
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