Major General Ahmed al-Jubouri, a police commander from the Iraqi city of Mosul, confirmed that police still only have “limited” control over the province of Nineveh, which is located on the Syrian border. He said smugglers are taking advantage of the lax security situation to conduct illegal business between the two countries.
In an interview with Al-Hayat, Jubouri said that “violence remains rife on the borders with Syria, and infiltrations continue between the two countries. The measures taken on the ground to stop these violations did not take long to turn into armed clashes that have recently left many border guards wounded.”
In May, the Iraqi Government mobilized security forces to the Syrian border following the outbreak of armed clashes between Syrian rebels and government troops in the Abu Kamal region, which lies in between both countries.
“There are two key reasons behind the ongoing smuggling. First, both countries are unable to control the smugglers on their respective sides of the border. Although tight security measures have been taken, savvy smugglers still managed to cross over the border,” said Jubouri.
“These individuals live off the meager profits they make from smuggling limited food supplies. Therefore, they can easily be coaxed into smuggling weapons and people — many from various backgrounds — for larger sums of money,” said Jubouri.
“The second reason [behind the smuggling] is the old problem that there are many intertwined and connected villages on both sides of the border, which stretches from Mount Sinjar to Rabia. Given that the area is inhabited, it constitutes a weak point for border security.”
Yesterday [June 19], Iraqi MP Iskandar Watout, vice chairman of the Security and Defense parliamentary committee, said in a press statement that “Iraq needs surveillance planes along its long border to prevent smugglers from entering or leaving the Iraqi territory.”