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Syria To Impose Visas On Iraqis To Stem Refugee Influx

Syria has taken in some 1.5 million Iraqi refugees (file) (epa) September 3, 2007 -- Syria is reported to have imposed visa requirements on Iraqi nationals in a bid to control the flood of Iraqi refugees into the country.

Western news agencies quote Syrian officials as saying only Iraqis belonging to the economic, commercial, and scientific sectors will be authorized to enter Syria.

The move is to take effect on September 10.

Iraqis could previously turn up at any Syrian border point and be automatically issued a three-month visa. Under the new decree, visas can be issued only to those "belonging to the economic, commercial and scientific sectors" by Syrian embassies abroad.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that the number of Iraqi refugees in Syria is rising by 30,000 a month.

Syria hosts the bulk of more than 2 million Iraqis who have fled violence in their home country. Some 750,000 of them are in Jordan.

Officials in Jordan have also announced plans to impose visa requirements on Iraqis, but have not said when the regime will begin.

(AFP, Reuters)

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