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According to three Iranian officials, two Iraqi intelligence sources and two Western intelligence sources, Iran has transferred short-range ballistic missiles to allies in Iraq over the last few months. Five of the officials said it was helping those groups to start making their own.
“The logic was to have a backup plan if Iran was attacked,” one senior Iranian official told Reuters. “The number of missiles is not high, just a couple of dozen, but it can be increased if necessary.”
Iran has previously said its ballistic missile activities are purely defensive in nature. Iranian officials declined to comment when asked about the latest moves.
The Iraqi government and military both declined to comment.
Reuters | AMN
According to the reports, a Russian Tu-154M was traveling from Moscow to the Syrian coastal province of Latakia, when the Iraqi government made the decision to block the warplane’s flight over their airspace. No reason was cited by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense for blocking this Russian warplane.
Syria and Iraq have an agreement to allow their air forces to use one another’s airspace while attacking the Islamic State (ISIS); however, the Russian jet is likely transporting troops to the Hmeymim Airbase in Jableh, which begs the question as to why were they prohibited from using the Iraqi airspace.