Iraqi forces on Sunday (October 21st) foiled a cross-border smuggling operation, arresting a group of people who had been planning to transport heavy electrical equipment into Syria from the desert area near al-Qaim in Anbar province, an Iraqi official said.
The Interior Ministry and the Anbar Operations Command on Tuesday informed the Ministry of Electricity that Iraqi forces had seized "electrical equipment that was ready for smuggling" in western Anbar, Electricity Ministry spokesman Musab al-Mudarris told Diyaruna.
Acting in response to intelligence information, a security team seized a number of power generators from a workshop in al-Karabla area of al-Qaim, he said.
The team arrested a number of individuals linked to the smuggling effort, who confessed to having hidden another stash of generators in the desert area of al-Qaim that they had intended to smuggle into Syria, he said.
The team located the second cache, al-Mudarris said, and confiscated everything it found there, including "76 generators of different sizes and types to boost power capacity".
It also seized oil and water filters that are thought to have been intended for use in the construction of gun silencers, and devices that were likely intended to be used as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), he said.
Suspects under interrogation
The suspects involved in the planned smuggling operation are still being interrogated, al-Mudarris said, while the seized materials have been sent to a forensic laboratory for identification.
The Ministry of Electricity has opened an investigation in co-operation with the Anbar Operations Command and the relevant security authorities to find out where and when the generators and equipment were stolen, he said.
"The contents of many electrical power facilities were stolen and smuggled out of the country by the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' (ISIS) during its control of several areas in the north and west of the country," he said.
During that period, ISIS also "sabotaged electricity plants such as those in Baiji and al-Qayyarah, and damaged power towers and distribution lines", he added.
The seizure of the electrical equipment is a "positive effort that contributes to security in the country and the reclamation of public property", al-Mudarris said.
Efforts like this will help to restore stolen equipment to the state and will in turn "improve the level of energy services offered to the citizens", he added.