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US envoy slams Iran’s alleged destabilizing role in Iraq


ImageAFP: The US ambassador to the UN on Monday slammed the alleged destabilizing role of Iran and Syria in Iraq and urged them to stop the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into their war-scarred neighbor.

ImageUNITED NATIONS (AFP) — The US ambassador to the UN on Monday slammed the alleged destabilizing role of Iran and Syria in Iraq and urged them to stop the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into their war-scarred neighbor.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told a Security Council meeting that recent clashes between Iraqi government forces and "criminal militia elements" in Baghdad and Basra pointed to "Iran's destabilizing influence and actions."

He said the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, known as Qods Force, "continues to arm, train, and fund illegal armed groups in Iraq."

He added that the bulk of weapons used by these militias were "made in Iran and supplied by Iran, including mortars, rockets and explosively-formed penetrators (EFPs)."

"This lethal aid poses a significant threat to Iraqi and multinational forces and to the stability and sovereignty of Iraq," Khalilzad said, adding that it also undermined the Iraqi government's efforts to rebuild the country.

The US envoy also expressed concern about the flow of arms and foreign fighters across the Iraqi-Syrian border, citing estimates that Syria is the entry point for "90 percent of all known foreign terrorists in Iraq."

"Syria continues to allow foreign fighters to transit Syria en route to conducting attacks in Iraq, and we know that Al-Qaeda terrorist facilitators continue to operate inside Syria," Khalilzad said.

"Iran and Syria must stop the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into Iraq, and their malign interference in Iraq," he added.

Britain's deputy UN ambassador Karen Pierce also noted that "any external links to armed groups in Iraq outside the political process, either through the supply of weapons, training or funding, are unacceptable."

She said these weapons were being used to attack the security forces of "the democratically-elected and sovereign Government of Iraq as well as multinational forces."

"We look to those who have influence on such parties to bring that influence to bear," Pierce said.

Iraq's UN envoy Hamid al-Bayati also highlighted his government's request for international support to end and prevent "foreign interference in Iraq's internal affairs that destabilizes the country's stability and security."

He said his country also looked forward to next month's follow-up meeting of the International Compact with Iraq (ICI) in Sweden.

The ICI, a joint initiative by the Iraqi government and the international community, was launched in Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt last May, when more than 60 countries pledged commitments of 30 billion dollars (19 billion euros) for Iraq's reconstruction.

Five years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, a total of about 155,000 multinational troops are still present, including 141,000 from the United States and 7,100 from Britain.

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