World News

Iraq wants details of U.S. raid in Syria - spokesman

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Iraq is waiting for the United States to provide details of a deadly U.S. military raid on a Syrian border village, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Friday.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh is seen during a joint news conference with Major General Abdul-Aziz Mohammed, head of operations at the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, in Baghdad in this March 31, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Ceerwan Aziz/Files

The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has opened an investigation into the incident and has said Iraq must not be used to stage attacks on other nations.

“We have not received any details from the United States. We have put a request to be informed about the incident,” Dabbagh told Reuters on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum meeting in Istanbul.

“We have expressed our position that Iraq is not accepting this kind of aggression that is creating difficulties with our neighbours,” he said.

Syria says eight civilians were killed in the attack on Sunday, which occurred in an area close to Syria’s border with Iraq and which Damascus has angrily condemned as “terrorist aggression” by the United States.

Washington has yet to officially confirm the raid but officials have said on condition of anonymity that the operation is believed to have killed a major al-Qaeda militant responsible for smuggling foreign fighters into Iraq.

Dabbagh also called on Damascus to halt to what he described as insurgent activity inside Syria and to step up intelligence cooperation and border patrolling.

“We would like the Syrians to act as good neighbours, but we are not satisfied with the level of cooperation from the Syrians,” he said.

The raid has highlighted the delicate position of the U.S.-backed government, caught between its ally Washington and Damascus, which has long been a target of American ire.

Baghdad initially said the raid targeted an area used by militants to launch attacks into Iraq but later denounced it.

Iraq has been hoping for rapprochement with Syria and other Arab neighbours, despite complaints since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that Syria has failed to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq.

Dabbagh said relations between Baghdad and Damascus should not be affected by the raid.