By Kevin Liptak
Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday in Baghdad that he pressed Iraq's leaders to take steps prohibiting Iranian planes from delivering arms to Syria's besieged government, which is battling rebels backed by financial support from the American government.
Iranian planes must fly through Iraq's airspace in order to reach Syria with deliveries of weapons and supplies. The flights are occurring almost daily, according to a senior State Department official accompanying Kerry on his stop in Baghdad.
"Anything that supports President Assad is problematic," Kerry told reporters, referring to Syria's leader. "And I made it very clear to the prime minister that the overflights from Iran are, in fact, helping to sustain President Assad and his regime."
Kerry's previously unannounced trip to Iraq came after he joined President Barack Obama on a trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. This week marked the ten-year anniversary of the beginning of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and the first time since 2009 that a U.S. secretary of state has visited the country. Obama last went to Iraq in April 2009.