US Sec. of State tells Iraq to close airspace for Iranian planes ‘with Assad aid’Submitted by ralph hornsby on Sun, 03/24/2013 - 15:50
Iraq shouldn't allow Iran to use its airspace to provide aid to the Syrian government, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, warned during his unannounced visit to Baghdad.
"I made it very clear that for those of us, who are engaged in an effort to see President Assad step down... anything that supports President Assad is problematic," Kerry said after holding private talks with Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
The Secretary of State added that the silent approval of the Iranian overflights by the Iraqi authorities has left the American people "wondering how it is a partner".
Washington believes that, despite claims that it’s only humanitarian aid, Iran is sending arms and fighters to help Assad in his war against the US-backed National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.
AP is citing an unnamed US official, who said that such flights occur "close to daily", undermining American efforts to support the rebels.
The flights have long been an issue in the relationship between Washington and Baghdad. In 2012, previous Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, received a promise from Iraq to check the Iranian flights last year, but since then only two aircraft have been inspected.
Kerry’s comments came after a group of senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama last week, urging him to step up US military efforts in Syria, including destroying Assad's aircraft using precision airstrikes.