Iraq`s ambassador back in Damascus

Alaa Hussein al-Jawadi was appointed Iraq`s first ambassador in Feb 2009.

Damascus: Iraq`s ambassador to Syria resumed his duties on Sunday after a year-long spat between the neighbours sparked by massive car bombs Baghdad said were plotted in Damascus, an Iraqi diplomat said.

"The Iraqi ambassador returned to Damascus last night (Saturday) and resumed his duties today (Sunday)," said the diplomat, who declined to be named.

Alaa Hussein al-Jawadi was appointed Iraq`s first ambassador in February 2009 when the neighbours re-established diplomatic ties after 28 years.

Syria`s ambassador to Iraq, Nawaf al-Fares, had been named to his Baghdad post four months earlier.

The envoys were recalled by their respective governments on August 25, 2009, six days after massive truck bombings against the ministries of finance and foreign affairs in Baghdad left 95 dead and around 600 wounded, the worst day of violence in Iraq in 18 months.

Iraq accused Syria of sheltering two insurgents, Mohammed Yunis al-Ahmed and Sattam Farhan, who orchestrated the attacks, charges Damascus denied.

Baghdad`s government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said last month that the request for the extradition of the two men was still pending, but Iraq believed "relations need to develop with goodwill from both sides”.

Dabbagh added that Baghdad wanted to boost economic ties with Damascus, after the two sides agreed last month to build two oil pipelines linking Iraq to Mediterranean sea ports via Syria for exporting crude.

The diplomatic flap had thrown into disarray extensive efforts made in the previous years to boost ties, which had been weak under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The two countries held failed talks, mediated by Turkey, in the aftermath of the row.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki alleged last year that 90 percent of foreign "terrorists" who infiltrate Iraq did so via Syria.

Iraq also aired a video showing a former police chief confessing to the bombing at the Finance Ministry and saying he had received orders from Syria-based Baathist bosses.

Diplomatic relations between Damascus and Baghdad were severed in 1980 when the countries were ruled by rival wings of the Baath party and Syria backed Iran in a devastating war with Iraq that broke out that year.

Relations started to thaw in 2000 and the two nations decided in 2006 to resume formal ties, three years after the invasion. In April 2009, Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otri made the first trip by a Syrian premier to Iraq since the invasion.