Iraq sends thousands more police to Syrian border
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Last Updated: Saturday, September 05, 2009, 14:47
  
Baghdad: Iraq has deployed thousands of reinforcements along its border with Syria to prevent insurgents from crossing the desert frontier, as the government said on Friday it has provided Syria with evidence linking Iraqis there to bombings.

Extra police were sent to the border this week on the Prime Minister's orders in response to the government's assertion that former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party based in Syria planned and financed last month's attacks against the foreign and finance ministries, said Maj Gen Tariq Youssef, the police commander in western Iraq.

Iraq is seeking the extradition of two suspects, but Syria has refused, demanding to see proof of their involvement. The dispute has strained relations between the two countries and again put Syria on the defensive over accusations it is not doing enough to stop cross-border attacks.

The August 19 truck bombings outside the government ministries in Baghdad killed about 100 people. Iraq has blamed an alliance between al Qaeda in Iraq and the outlawed Baath Party.

Turkey, which has experience as a regional mediator, has tried to soothe the dispute between the two countries, which have both recalled their ambassadors.

"We have given them the evidence that we have through the Turkish foreign minister and we are waiting for their response," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said.

Iraq's post-Saddam government has for years sought the handover of former Baath Party officials who fled to Syria after the 2003 US-led invasion. Iraqi officials say Damascus allows them to live and engage in political activity in Syria.

One of the Iraqis linked to the August bombings is Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed, who was high up in the Baath Party and has been near the top of Iraq's most-wanted list for several years. The other suspect is Satam Farhan.

Iraq's Foreign Minister gave a US congressional delegation led by Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan a tour of the shattered ministry building on Friday. Crunching over shattered glass, the group walked up to the edge of the water-filled bomb crater in front of the building's shredded front facade.

The American delegation also met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who a day earlier accused Syria of sheltering the bombing suspects and appealed to the UN Security Council to investigate and set up an international tribunal to try those accused of involvement.

Bureau Report


First Published: Saturday, September 05, 2009, 14:47


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