Iraqis, Coalition Beefing up Border Interdiction
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2005 Iraqi and coalition officials are doing their best to halt shipments of bomb-making materials, expertise and individuals into Iraq, DoD officials said in a Pentagon news conference today.
The officials were asked about British Prime Minister Tony Blair's assertion that Iran and Hezbollah are providing materials used to attack coalition targets and destabilize Iraq.
Army Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, deputy operations chief on the Joint Staff, said Iraqi security forces had intercepted a shipment of devices from Iran into Iraq about a month ago.
"It is principally, as we would expect, an Iraqi issue to secure their own border with Iran. We have a responsibility to help them, both in terms of training and with technology, to improve their border forces," Ham said. "It remains very clearly an area of concern, particularly for Multinational Division Southeast, which is perhaps why the British are also very concerned about that."
Ham said challenges along the Iraq-Syria border are different than those along the Iraq-Iran border.
The border between Iraq and Syria is a long stretch. While "border forts" are being built, many holes remain for insurgents and weapons to pass through. Ham said an operation is ongoing in the vicinity of Qaim to help establish security along the border and to help deny terrorist facilitators safe haven.
Iraqi and coalition officials have seen evidence that foreign fighters are infiltrating into Iraq from Syria.
Ham also said the coalition has seen an evolving terrorist capability in building improvised explosive devices. "This enemy is very imaginative, very adaptive, and very lethal," he said. "And, as we refine our IED countermeasures, they are also adapting their measures. So we are seeing greater degrees of sophistication, different techniques, different technological approaches. And that's a great challenge for us."