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Iraq 'Can't Stop' Iran Arms Transfer To Syria

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari
Iraq's foreign minister has told a pan-Arab newspaper that his country is unable to stop neighboring Iran from sending weapons to Syria through its airspace.

The London-based "Asharq al-Awsat" daily quoted Hoshyar Zebari as saying: "We reject and condemn the transfer of weapons through our airspace and we will inform the Iranian side of that formally. But we do not have the ability to stop it."

Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime is locked in a bloody conflict with opposition rebels.

The United States, which has called on Assad to step down, has urged Baghdad to stop Iranian flights over its airspace to Syria.

Zebari said random checks by Iraq on Iranian aircraft bound for Syria since September had only found medicines and food onboard.

UN, Red Cross Urge Access To Homs

In related news, the United Nations says long-range weapons and tank attacks are being used in the Syrian government’s siege of the opposition in the city of Homs.

In a joint statement, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos and human rights chief Navi Pillay called for international aid organizations to be granted access to the city.

The statement said both President Bashar al-Assad's forces and opposition rebels have refused to give firm safety guarantees. It also said that "up to 2,500 people remain trapped inside Homs," and there have been reports of "shelling, use of long-range weapons, and ground attacks using tanks."

In a separate statement, the International Committee of the Red Cross called on the government to permit delivery of food and medical supplies to Homs" old city.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

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