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WAR REPORT
Iraq searches Syria-bound plane from Iran
by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) Oct 28, 2012


Lebanon arms maker for Syria 'killed in blast'
Tripoli, Lebanon (AFP) Oct 28, 2012 - A home-made weapons manufacturer in north Lebanon was killed in a blast in his workshop on Sunday while trying to make a machinegun for Syrian rebels, a Lebanese security official told AFP.

Marwan al-Qassab was working on a DShK heavy machinegun to be smuggled into Syria to support the insurgents when a blast rocked his workshop, the official said on condition of anonymity.

"Marwan al-Qassab had a small, illicit weapons factory in the town of Minieh," 10 kilometres (six miles) north of the coastal city of Tripoli, he added.

"Members of the security forces rushed to the scene, and found his body shredded by the blast."

North Lebanon is home to many sympathisers -- most of them Sunni Muslim -- of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. Assad who belongs to the Alawite offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Lebanon is sharply divided into pro and anti-Damascus camps, with the Western-allied March 14 parliamentary coalition bitterly opposed to Assad, and the Shiite movement Hezbollah and its allies supporting his regime.

Iraq stopped and searched a Syria-bound cargo plane from Iran for weapons for the second time in a month on Sunday, but allowed it to continue as no banned items were found, an official said.

The United States has been pressuring Baghdad to ensure all Iranian aircraft flying through its airspace are ordered to land and checked for weapons, but Iraq has said it will only stop planes when it has doubts about the cargo being transported.

"We ordered an Iranian cargo plane travelling to Syria to land at Baghdad International Airport for inspection," Nasser Bandar, the head of Iraq's civil aviation authority, told AFP.

"It was inspected by security forces, but we did not find any banned items, and we allowed it to continue its trip," Bandar said. Inspectors did not find any weapons, and instead found medical supplies and humanitarian goods.

"We have orders that any cargo plane we have doubts about, we must stop it and inspect it," Bandar said.

Iraq stopped an Iranian cargo plane for the same reason on October 2, but allowed it to continue to Syria after inspections concluded it was not carrying prohibited items.

On September 21, Iraq denied permission for a North Korean aircraft to transit its airspace on its way to Syria over suspicions it would carry arms and advisers there.

Iraq has pointedly avoided calling for the departure from office of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is locked in a bloody civil war with rebels opposed to his regime, and has instead urged an end to violence by all parties.

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