The Iraqi army on Sunday (July 19th) began to fortify the Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran in Iraq's Basra province as part of a government plan to tackle corruption, smuggling and illegal activities at all border crossings.
It is the second land crossing in Basra, after Safwan on the border with Kuwait, where strict protection measures have been implemented as part of a plan launched July 11th.
The border security plan aims to "impose the rule of law and the sovereignty of the state at all border crossings", Basra Operations Commander Lt. Gen. Qassem Jasim Nazzal told Diyaruna.
"We have started work to secure Shalamcheh crossing and bolster fortifications there," he said.
"We have taken a set of measures aimed at controlling the crossing, such as closing all entrances and maintaining one corridor that is operated under the army’s control," he said.
Additionally, he said, Iraqi forces have closed all informal roads leading to the crossing and combed the surrounding areas.
"Work is proceeding in high co-ordination with police forces, the customs authority and the workers at the crossing," Nazzal said, adding that these measures "will help tighten security at the crossing".
The army has taken full responsibility for security at the crossing, he said, with the new measures implemented under the directives of Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhemi, who serves as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
In addition to the land crossings of Safwan and Shalamcheh, Basra includes the sea ports of Southern and Northern Umm Qasr, al-Maqal and Khor al-Zubair.
Securing crossings with Iran
During a July 15th visit to Basra, Kadhemi said his government was resolved to eliminate corruption and illegal activities at border customs points and to limit arms possession to the state.
He ordered the Basra Operations Command to assume full control of the Safwan and Shalamcheh crossings, and charged the Naval Force Command with the responsibility of controlling the seaports, the Joint Operations Command said.
These forces have sufficient numbers of trained forces to carry out all duties and tasks assigned to them, Nazzal said, noting that all crossings in Basra are today subject to tight security control, and no breaches of the law have been recorded.
Iraqi forces have full control of three border crossings with Iran: Mandali and Munthiriya, in Diyala province, and Zarbatiya crossing in Wasit province.