Riyadh: Al-Qaeda is moving from Iraq to
Syria, where the government is carrying out a bloody crackdown
on an uprising, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in an
interview published on Saturday.
"Al-Qaeda has started migrating from Iraq to Syria, and
maybe it will migrate from Syria to another country, to Libya
or to Egypt or to any region where the regime is unstable and
out of control," Maliki said in an interview with Saudi daily
"Yesterday, Syria was considering itself outside the
circle of the terrorism problem, and today, it is in the heart
of the terrorism problem," Maliki said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been carrying out a
bloody crackdown on an uprising against his rule since March
2011, in which more than 7,500 people have died, according to
Iraq`s deputy interior minister told last month that
jihadists were moving from Iraq to Syria and arms were being
smuggled across the border to opponents of Assad`s regime, but
Maliki`s remarks are the first time an Iraqi official has said
specifically that Al-Qaeda is moving from Iraq to Syria.
Al-Qaeda`s front organisation here, the Islamic State of
Iraq, has waged a bloody campaign of attacks that has spanned
years, especially targeting members of Iraq`s Shiite majority
and security forces.
Excerpts of the interview were released by Maliki`s
office on Tuesday, including one in which he said that "Iraq
backs change in Syria."
"Change is necessary. The situation will not be stable
Maliki did not elaborate on what kind of change he wished
to see, but said Syrians "must receive more freedom, and form
a national unity government as a first step, and free
elections should be held under Arab and UN supervision."