Iraq’s prime minister warned on Saturday that weapons and fighters flowing into Syria are now making their way to Iraq, as a rising tide of violence sweeps across the country.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that weapons provided by some countries to the Syrian rebels and foreign fighters attempting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, are ending up in Iraq.
“The weapons provided to those killers in Syria have been smuggled to Iraq and those wolves that came from different countries to Syria are now sneaking into Iraq,” he said during a youth gathering.
Al-Maliki said that the movement of weapons and fighters is adding to the violence hitting his country.
Iraq officially remains neutral in the Syrian conflict. The Shiite-led government in Baghdad has repeatedly called for a peaceful, political solution to the crisis, though it has also warned that a victory for the rebels would unleash sectarian war in Iraq and Lebanon.
The long and porous Iraqi-Syrian border runs along Iraq’s Sunni-dominated provinces of Anbar and Ninevah, and was a key conduit for arms and al-Qaeda fighters in the years following the 2003 US-led invasion.
Centuries-old cultural and tribal affiliations span the loosely defended desert frontier. Iraqi border guards frequently clash with militants and smugglers who are attempting to move across the borders.
Attacks killed at least six people yesterday, including a local council member, officials said.
Two roadside bombs targeted a bus stop and a supermarket in two separate areas of Baghdad, killing at least four people and wounding 13, most of them government employees.
The body of a local council member who was kidnapped on Saturday was found south of Kirkuk. He was shot in the head and his body bore signs of torture.
And in Muqdadiyah, north of Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed a teacher while he was driving.
The teacher, a Sunni Arab, had fled a Shiite-majority area of Muqdadiyah in 2006 and returned just two months ago.
On Saturday, gunmen opened fire on an army checkpoint just south of Baghdad, killing four soldiers and wounding four others.
In an attack on a checkpoint near Muqdadiyah, a town 95km north of Baghdad, three soldiers were killed and one was wounded, police said.
In the city of Tikrit, 130km north of the Iraqi capital, gunmen opened fire on an army checkpoint, killing two soldiers, police said.
Also, a car bomb exploded in the southern port city of Umm Qasr, said Anmar al-Safi, the media official at the port. He added that the explosion caused no casualties.
Medical hospital officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.
In other violence reported by police officials on Saturday, attackers detonated explosives on Friday at a pipeline linking Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, disrupting crude oil exports.
Additional reporting by AFP