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A wary Iraq weighs its options as Syrian civil war deepens

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The diplomat said Iranian flights to Syria had increased significantly over the past few months at the same time the West was seeing evidence of an increased Iranian intelligence presence in the fighting.  He said the flights were believed to include surveillance equipment and technical personnel allowing Syria’s secret police to more effectively find and kill opponents.

Arms to Syria

While Iran is believed to be providing support to the Syrian government, countries including Saudi Arabia and Qatar are widely believed to be channeling weapons to opposition forces. Diplomats say Gulf states though have so far refrained from providing strategic weapons such as antitank missiles in fear that they could eventually be used against the countries that provided them.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki this week said Iraq did not have the capacity to search every plane but emphasized that his country is committed to not being a transit point for weapons to Syria.

“We will not be a party in the conflict between the Free Syrian Army or the government,” said Mr. Maliki, who spent years in exile in Syria under Saddam Hussein’s rule.

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