DAMASCUS (AFP) – A high-level meeting to discuss security in Iraq opened in Damascus on Sunday less than a month after US soldiers raided a Syrian village in a hunt for a “facilitator” of foreign fighters entering Iraq.
“It is everyone’s responsibility to step up cooperation to supervise borders” with Iraq, Syria’s Interior Minister Bassam Abdul Majid said in an opening speech.
He called on participants to ensure that “Iraq will not be the point of departure for acts of aggression against its neighbours in any circumstances whatsoever.”
The minister said Syria’s sovereignty was “gravely violated” by the October 26 attack of helicopter-borne American soldiers on a village near the border with Iraq.
Damascus says the raid left eight civiliians dead, but an official in Washington said the raid targeted a “facilitator” of foreign fighters crossing the border from Syria to battle US and Iraqi forces.
“Syria has always taken the necessary steps to supervise its border with Iraq… stability in Iraq is reflected in all countries of the region,” Abdul Majid said.
“Sovereignty and independence for Iraq… will only be achieved through the departure of foreign forces from its territory,” he said.
The United States, Britain and France are among countries represented at the two-day gathering, which is also being attended by senior officials from Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Russia, China and Japan.
The United Nations, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the Arab League have also sent delegations.
Washington regularly accuses both Syria and Iraq’s eastern neighbour Iran of fanning the violence and not doing enough to prevent the infiltration of insurgents across their borders.