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Iraq Presses UN Envoy on Bombings Tribunal, Syria - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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BAGHDAD, (AP) – Iraq’s prime minister pressed the U.N. envoy Sunday for action on his request for an international tribunal to try suspects in last month’s suicide truck bombings at government targets.

The premier, Nuri al-Maliki, also briefed the special envoy on the intensifying dispute with neighboring Syria sparked by the attacks, state TV reported.

Iraq says two wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party who fled to Syria at the start of the war planned and financed the Aug. 19 attacks. Syria has refused to hand them over, demanding evidence.

The bombings devastated the foreign and finance ministries in Baghdad and killed about 100 people. The attacks severely shook confidence in al-Maliki’s government, which wants to demonstrate it can guarantee security after the June withdrawal of American troops from urban areas.

Al-Maliki is also hoping to hold onto his job after January’s national elections and had touted recent security improvements in his public appearances. He has faced criticism over the security lapses revealed by the attacks — one suspect said in a televised confession that the bombers got past checkpoints by paying bribes.

Because of the international element to the case, Iraq has asked the U.N. Security Council to investigate and set up a special court to try suspects. A U.N. spokesman said Thursday that the request was expected to be distributed to the 15 council members shortly.

There was no immediate comment from the U.N.’s Iraq mission or the prime minister’s office on his meeting with the envoy, Ad Melkert. Iraqi state-run television said the dispute with Syria dominated the discussion.

After the attacks, al-Maliki ordered reinforcements to the Syrian border to shore up defenses against fighters crossing into Iraq.

The U.S. military had long accused Syria of not doing enough to stop the cross-border flow of fighters, though the numbers of infiltrators have decreased.

Most of the extra police forces were deployed in the area around the border town of Husaybah, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) west of Baghdad, said a police official in the town. The area, where the Euphrates River enters Iraq, is where most of the border crossings have taken place in the past.

The police reinforcements were added to border observation posts and checkpoints, and the number and size of patrols have been increased, said the official. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to release the information.

Areas around Baghdad and the city of Mosul in the north continue to be plagued by violence.

A gunman broke into a house in Mosul on Sunday, killing a 3-year-old girl and her grandmother before fleeing, said a provincial police official and a doctor at the city’s hospital. Neither wanted to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to reporters.

Gunmen also attacked checkpoints in the city, killing three policemen, police said.

In southeast Baghdad, a car parked near a security checkpoint exploded, killing one person and wounding five civilians, police said.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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