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Iraq Says Syria Denies Involvement In Bomb Attacks


BAGHDAD -- A senior Iraqi official says the Syrian government is rejecting charges of a Syrian connection to recent bomb attacks in Baghdad without an objective examination of the evidence, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

A diplomatic row erupted after Iraqi officials last month accused Damascus of harboring individuals it said were responsible for a string of bombings, including truck bombs that killed nearly 100 people outside Iraqi ministries on August 19.

National Security Deputy Minister Saad al-Muttalibi told RFI that "the Turkish mediators were convinced by the evidence but the Syrian side lacks credibility and impartiality in their treatment of the same evidence."

He said "the Syrian position is governed by a political decision," adding, "We should not forget that this is the Ba'ath ruling [party] in Syria," the same party as former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Al-Muttalibi said Iraq agreed to attend a September 17 meeting in Istanbul after a call by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The Iraqi cabinet's adviser for legal affairs, Fadhil Muhammad Jawad, told RFI that "Iraq is perceived by Syria as a weak country reliant on the United States and Damascus is seeking to take advantage of Washington's overtures toward Baghdad by using Iraq as a bargaining chip."

Jawad said Damascus wanted to send a message to Washington that Iraq's stability was heavily dependent on Syria's goodwill.
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