UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Syria’s yearlong turmoil could stoke violence in neighboring Iraq, where more than 600 people were killed in religion-related attacks in the first three months of this year, a U.N. official told the Security Council on Tuesday.
“Terrorist attacks have continued to target pilgrims and resulted in the killing and wounding of scores of defenseless people practicing their religion,” said Martin Kobler, the U.N. special representative to Iraq.
In his second briefing to the council since taking up his post six months ago, Kobler said 613 civilians died and 1,835 were injured in “communal attacks” through March 31, 2012 — slightly fewer than the same period in 2011.
Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Hamid Al-Bayati told the council that Iraq warns all countries against “the hijacking of the wave of Arab revolutions by al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.”
Al-Bayati also said the withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of 2011 helped move Iraq to a “new stage in the democratic political process,” as some Arab countries refused to restore diplomatic ties or open embassies as long as American troops were in the country.