The Obama administration pressed Iraq to shut down the air corridor that Iran had been using earlier this year, raising the issue with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq. But as Syrian rebels gained ground and Mr. Assad’s government was rocked by a bombing that killed several high officials, Iran doubled down in supporting the Syrian leader. The flights started up again in July and, to the frustration of American officials, have continued ever since.
Military experts say that the flights have enabled Iran to provide supplies to the Syrian government despite the efforts Syrian rebels have made to seize several border crossings where Iranian aid has been trucked in.
“The Iranians have no problems in the air, and the Syrian regime still controls the airport,” said a retired Lebanese Army general, Hisham Jaber, who heads the Middle East Center for Studies and Research in Beirut.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has played the lead role on Iraq policy for the Obama administration, discussed the Syrian crisis in a phone call with Mr. Maliki on Aug. 17. The White House has declined to disclose details, but an American official who would not speak on the record said that Mr. Biden had registered his concerns over the flights.
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