Here’s an interesting story about US efforts to aid the Syrian rebels. Especially this bit:
A centerpiece of the effort this year focused on getting Iraq to close its airspace to Iran-to-Syria flights that U.S. intelligence concluded were carrying arms for Assad loyalists—contrary to flight manifests saying they held cut flowers…
One example of the U.S. approach—and of its limitations—came earlier this year when the U.S. sought to pressure Iraq to curtail flights between Iran and Syria across Iraqi airspace. That supply route opened wide after the U.S. completed its troop withdrawal from Iraq in December, U.S. administration and military officials say.
The next month, the CIA picked up detailed intelligence that Iran was using an Iranian private cargo airline, Yas Air, to fly arms over Iraq to Syria, according to U.S. officials. . . .
In an official complaint to Baghdad called a démarche, the U.S. demanded an end to the flights, said officials briefed on the discussions. “You’ve got to stop this,” the Americans told Iraqi leaders, according to one senior U.S. official.
The démarche appeared to persuade the Iraqis to act, according to American officials; the flights stopped.
But in late January and early February, the CIA began to track flights of Syrian government AN-76 cargo planes between Syria and Iran, a new tactic. . . .
While U.S. and Iraqi officials went back and forth on the issue, several Syrian cargo planes made the trip to Iran and back without interference.
As Iraq prepared to play host to an Arab League meeting at the end of March, which would showcase its emergence from American occupation, U.S. officials raised the possibility Iraq would face disclosures about the flights—an embarrassment because most Arab nations had turned against Mr. Assad.
The warning appeared to get through. Iraqi leaders told the U.S. they might search the suspect flights. Two weeks before the Arab League summit, the flights of the Syrian AN-76 cargo planes abruptly stopped, U.S. officials say.
Flowers, eh? No fish? Doing a quick look, I find that Yas Air is now on a UNSC list, and that it operates 2 Il-76 and 3 An-74. All three of the An-74s were previously registered to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Corps. The Ilyushins have knocked around various Iranian owners, but the prior one (Parsair) also seems to have taken over another aircraft from the IRGC. Guys. This isn’t going to fool anyone.