Iraq buys $49m security system

2009-12-04 18:04

Baghdad - Iraq has bought a $49m border surveillance system to better secure its porous frontiers with neighbouring Iran and Syria, the US military said on Friday.

The system will only monitor activity along a third of Iraq's borders with Iran and Syria, which spawn 1 458km and 605km respectively, according to the American mission charged with training Iraq's security forces.

Overall, the system will provide security for 286km of the Iraq-Syria border and 402km of the Iraq-Iran border, the Multi-National Security Transition Command (MNSTC-I) said in a statement.

Iraq has accused Damascus of harbouring the masterminds behind two sets of massive bombings against government offices in Baghdad in recent months, while the US military has said infiltration along both borders remains a concern.

The new border surveillance system, which will become operational in June, will include towers with cameras, infra-red sensors and systems to relay information and communications to a regional command centre.

Critical step forward

According to the US military, it has a modular design that allows its coverage area to be increased.

"Iraq is taking a critical step forward in its efforts to protect its borders from external threats," said Lieutenant General Michael Barbero, the training mission's commander.

"Combined with other improvements to its border security, the investment in this system significantly enhances security for the people of Iraq."

MNSTC-I said it had worked with Iraq's interior ministry to "facilitate" the purchase of the surveillance system but provided no further details on whether it was sold to Iraq by the US government or a private company.

It also was not immediately clear whether the $49m figure was only for equipment and installation or also included training of Iraq's security forces to use it.