From left-leaning Reuters.
Iran has been using civilian aircraft to fly military personnel and large quantities of weapons across Iraqi airspace to Syria to aid President Bashar al-Assad in his attempt to crush an 18-month uprising against his government, according to a Western intelligence report seen by Reuters.
Earlier this month, U.S. officials said they were questioning Iraq about Iranian flights in Iraqi airspace suspected of ferrying arms to Assad, a staunch Iranian ally. On Wednesday, U.S. Senator John Kerry threatened to review U.S. aid to Baghdad if it does not halt such overflights.
Iraq says it does not allow the passage of any weapons through its airspace. But the intelligence report obtained by Reuters says Iranian weapons have been flowing into Syria via Iraq in large quantities. Such transfers, the report says, are organized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“This is part of a revised Iranian modus operandi that U.S. officials have only recently addressed publicly, following previous statements to the contrary,” said the report, a copy of which was provided by a U.N. diplomatic source.
“It also flies in the face of declarations by Iraqi officials,” it said. “Planes are flying from Iran to Syria via Iraq on an almost daily basis, carrying IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) personnel and tens of tons of weapons to arm the Syrian security forces and militias fighting against the rebels.”
It added that Iran was also “continuing to assist the regime in Damascus by sending trucks overland via Iraq” to Syria.
I was recently having a conversation with someone who was all in favor of regime change in the Middle East, but thought that the best way to achieve that was by abandoning our military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. I didn’t say anything to him about it, but I do think it’s important to understand that any kind of intelligence gathering, covert operations, interdiction, espionage, etc. depends on having military bases nearby to support such operations. In particular, covert operations often require military support. You can’t wish the Middle East well, and then pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq. We need to be there to stabilize the region, just like we did in Japan, South Korea, etc. after other wars.
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