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Maliki’s Syria stance slammed

(AFP) / 15 July 2012

DUBAI — Syria’s former ambassador in Baghdad, Nawaf Fares, criticised Iraqi premier in an interview broadcast on Saturday, saying Nouri Al Maliki’s stance towards Damascus was “contradictory” to the truth.

“I personally reproach the (Iraqi) prime minister on his stance which is contradictory to the truth,” Fares, who defected earlier this week, told Doha-based Al Jazeera television channel.

“He knows very well what (Syrian President) Bashar Al Assad had done to him and to all of Iraq specifically, Fares said, adding that Assad has “killed thousands” by opening “the doors for Al Qaeda” militants to carry out bombings across Iraq.

Iraq had repeatedly accused Damascus in the past of letting insurgents and arms transit through Syria for carrying out attacks inside the country, especially during the brutal conflict that erupted after US-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein’s government.

But since the uprising against Assad Iraq’s government has called for non-interference in Syria and has opposed arming the rebels.

Baghdad’s stance was similar to that of Syria’s other ally Iran which Fares accused of “putting pressures” on Maliki’s government.

“Iran must not support a tyrant and dictator who is killing his own people, regardless of its interests,” Fares told Al Jazeera in Qatar, where he has fled.

Western countries and the Syrian opposition accuse Iran of providing military support to the government in Syria, where more than 17,000 people have been killed since March 2011 according to activists. Tehran denies the charge.

When asked on UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s bid to shore Iran’s support for his tattered peace plan, Fares said: “Iran is part of the problem, how could it be part of the solution?”

“The Syrian revolt will win despite Iran and all countries backing the tyrant” whom Fares described as “Syria’s former president who is now a criminal and a killer”.— AFP


Fares, the first Syrian ambassador to defect to the opposition, was widely seen as a government hardliner and his decision, announced on Al Jazeera on Wednesday, was surprising. Syrian foreign ministry had said Fares, who hails from a prominent tribe from eastern Syria, had been dismissed and would be prosecuted.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s prime minister on Saturday condemned the killing of more than 150 people in a central Syrian town two days ago, describing the deaths as an “ugly massacre”. “The ugly massacre that took place in Tremseh town, in Hama province, provokes feelings of concern and condemnation,” Nouri Al Maliki said in a statement published on his official website.

“This reprehensible crime, which we condemn strongly ... should be an additional incentive for everyone to abandon the methods of violence, murder, revenge and terrorism in solving problems,” Maliki said. He said the killings should urge people to accelerate finding a peaceful solution to the 16-month-long Syrian crisis.

Iraq, which has a 600km border with Syria, has voiced support for a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis which initially began in February 2011.

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