| BAGHDAD, Sept 18
BAGHDAD, Sept 18 Iraq reopened its border with
Syria on Tuesday to receive refugees escaping violence, but
refused entry to young men for security reasons, Iraqi officials
"They (the central government) fear that some of those young
men could be members of al Qaeda or the Free Syrian Army," a
local government official in Iraq's Anbar province said.
Al Qaim was closed at the end of August when Syrian forces
backed by jets fought rebels for control of an airfield and
military base near the Syrian border town of Albu Kamal, within
metres of the crossing and on a major supply route from Iraq.
"The prime minister gave orders to receive 100 refugees
daily and the priority is for women, children, elderly, wounded
and sick people, but excluded young men," al Qaim's mayor Farhan
Ftaikhan told Reuters by phone.
Ftaikhan said Iraqi authorities had set up refugee camp
facilities with a capacity for five hundred families.
Al Qaim is already suffering spillover from the fighting in
Syria and Syrian jets fly over Iraqi airspace almost daily to
make bombing runs on rebel positions just inside Iraq.
Iraq's government is struggling to overcome its own
insurgency and legacy of sectarian violence. Baghdad says it has
evidence Sunni Islamist fighters are crossing the porous border
to fight against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
"This is an unjust decision towards Syrian families. Some
Syrian families reject leaving their young sons behind," the
Anbar province official said, declining to be named.
Most people in Albu Kamal have family in al Qaim and Anbar's
government has opposed the border closure from the start.
Syria's 18-month-old revolt is focused for now on the
capital Damascus and the port city of Aleppo, but fighting is
also fierce in strategically important Albu Kamal.