Jihadists are moving from Iraq to Syria and arms are also sent across the border to opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Iraq's deputy interior minister said in an interview with AFP on Saturday.
"We have intelligence information that a number of Iraqi jihadists went to Syria," Assadi said, adding that "weapons smuggling is still ongoing" from Iraq into Syria.
Since March last year, Assad's regime has carried out a bloody crackdown on an uprising in which more than 6,000 people have been killed.
While there are still regular civilian protests that turn deadly in Syria, the focus has now also shifted to armed conflict with regime forces.
"The weapons are transported from Baghdad to Nineveh (province), and the prices of weapons in Mosul (the province's capital) are higher now because they are being sent to the opposition in Syria," Assadi said.
He said that the price of a Kalashnikov assault rifle has risen from between $100 and $200 to between $1,000 and $1,500.
"The weapons are being smuggled from Mosul through the Rabia crossing to Syria, as members of the same families live on both sides of the border," he said.
And "there is some smuggling through a crossing near Abu Kamal," Assadi said, referring to a Syrian city.
There are large numbers of weapons in Iraq after three decades marked by multiple wars and a violent insurgency following the 2003 overthrow of now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein.
Assadi said some Arab jihadists have returned to their home countries to take part in revolutions there.
"In the past, Syrians were fighting in Iraq, and now they are fighting in Syria, and also the Egyptians are fighting in Egypt, the Yemenis in Yemen, and the Libyans in Libya."
"Violence in Iraq is less now because Al-Qaeda has so many places to fight," Assadi said.
Based on material distributed by AFP, just Google it. There is a lot of talk about security companies working in Iraq, however deputy Iraqi minster stop short of linking them to insurgency.