The Iraqi Army has closed the Rabia border crossing in Nineveh Province this weekend, after Syrian rebels captured the town of Yaarabiya and the Syrian side of the border post. Iraqi troops reported firing warning shots to keep the rebels out of Iraq, but there was no indication of a direct clash.
Iraqi troops were quick to close the border over fear that the rebels would attempt to use the crossing, as they have so many on the Turkish border, as a route through which to smuggle weapons. Iraq has officially declared its non-interference in the civil war, though it has been accused of backing the Assad government indirectly through its close ties with Iran.
Iraqi officials have expressed particular concern that the sectarian nature of the Syrian war could, if it spreads across the border, prompt even more sectarian violence in Iraq, particularly with the nation’s Sunni minority predominantly in provinces along the Syrian border.
The closure is bad news for the town of Rabia, however, as its economy is almost entirely based on commerce with Syria. A similar closure during the US troops surge in 2007 did major damage to the town’s economy, which it is only now recovering from.
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