Syria denies reports it helps Iraq to rebuild army
Informed Syrian sources have denied a report published by The Guardian last Monday about the delivery of a shipment of Czech rockets to Iraq through the Syrian port of Latakia. The Syrian sources told the London-based Al-Hayat that The Guardian report "is baseless and aimed at damaging Syria's reputation and finding an excuse for a possible US attack on Iraq"...
The report in the British newspaper said weapons from eastern Europe are being smuggled through Syria into Iraq, as Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein builds up his defense in anticipation of a US-led assault. Iraqi officers who have recently fled to Europe told The Guardian there was “an atmosphere of high tension and paranoia bordering on panic within the Baghdad regime.”
The defectors, all members of the dissident Iraqi Officers' Movement (IOM), said the Iraqi army has also stepped up executions of officers and civilians suspected of disloyalty.
The three defectors, who spoke to The Guardian, left Iraq during the past six months. According to their accounts, the first of three arms consignments bound for Iraq arrived in the Syrian port of Latakia on February 23. "We know that two more shipments are on the way, but we don't know if they have already arrived," one defector said.
The first consignment included anti-aircraft missiles, rockets and guidance systems for Iraq's long-range variants of the old Soviet Scud missile. The shipment, which cost Baghdad US$800,000, originated from the Czech Republic under export licenses for Syria and Yemen.
Its unloading at Latakia was overseen by an Iraqi intelligence officer, Lt Col Khaled al-Adhani, who also oversaw its diversion from its official destination by road to Iraq, The Guardian reported. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)