Jihadists are moving from Iraq to Syria, as are weapons being sent to opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Iraq's deputy interior minister told AFP on Saturday.
Assad has been carrying out a bloody crackdown on an uprising against his rule since March 2011, in which over 6,000 people have been killed.
"We have intelligence information that a number of Iraqi jihadists went to Syria," Adnan al-Assadi said in an interview with AFP, adding that "weapons smuggling is still ongoing" from Iraq to Syria.
"The weapons are transported from Baghdad to Nineveh (province), and the prices of weapons in Mosul (the province's capital) are higher now because they are being sent to the opposition in Syria," Assadi said.
He said that the price of a Kalashnikov assault rifle has risen from between $100 and $200 to between $1000 and $1500.
"The weapons are being smuggled from Mosul through the Rabia crossing to Syria, as members of the same families live on both sides of the border," he said.
And "there is some smuggling through a crossing near Abu Kamal," he said, referring to a Syrian city.
There are large numbers of weapons in Iraq after three decades marked by multiple wars and a violent insurgency following the 2003 overthrow of now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein.
Assadi said some Arab jihadists have returned home to participate in revolutions there.
"In the past, Syrians were fighting in Iraq, and now they are fighting in Syria, and also the Egyptians are fighting in Egypt, the Yemenis in Yemen, and the Libyans in Libya."
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak "used to send jihadists to Iraq and financed them to fight in Iraq, and (ousted Libyan leader Moamer) Kadhafi used to have many organisations fighting in Iraq," he said.