US approves opening of Iraqi-Syrian railway despite sanction threats
Despite tense relations between the United States and Syria, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) applauded the resumption of railway services between northern Iraq and the state labeled by the US as a supporter of terrorism. The train will run twice a week and take approximately 15 hours to reach Baghdad from the Syrian border.
The first train to travel the route between Rabiyah, a border town and Baghdad left the station on Wednesday, July 30, 2003. Operations were renewed under the administration of the US Army, the official supervisors of Iraq’s northern region, reported AFP. Some $1.4 million has been invested by the 101st Airborne Division on reparations in the region.
"It's Iraqi money for Iraqis," said Captain Pat Costello, explaining that the funding comes from Iraqi assets frozen after the Gulf War. Payouts from the funds are released on a diminutive basis and are used to hire local contractors.
According to the US-led CPA, the train includes mainly oil tanker cars and several passenger cars. The cars are expected to allow Iraq's petroleum industry to increase refinery output by one-third. “They are important for us here in Iraq because they will significantly raise ability to move crude around the country and particularly to get crude oil to the refineries," said a coalition spokesman.
United States has long considered Syria a sponsor of terrorism and has suspected it of possessing weapons of mass destruction. Concerned that “Syria's porous borders may have facilitated the escape from Iraq of members of Saddam Hussein's regime,“ the White House called Syria a "rogue nation" and a "terrorist state." Syrian officials heatedly rebuffed the American allegations.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell stated Syria might face diplomatic and economic sanctions for supporting terror groups and sheltering Iraqi leaders. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)