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Iraq call halt to security talks with Syria: 'This is the final meeting'

BAGHDAD — Iraq has broken off security cooperation talks with Syria.   

Officials said Syria has refused to cooperate to halt the flow of Al Qaida and other Sunni insurgents to Iraq. They said the regime of President Bashar Assad has failed to provide information on fugitives from the former Saddam Hussein regime believed harbored by Damascus.

"This is the final meeting," Iraqi government spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh said.

On Sept. 16, Al Dabbagh gave a briefing on talks that took place in Ankara in mid-September, Middle East Newsline reported. The briefing came in wake of a Syrian refusal to accept an Iraqi list of fugitives harbored by the Assad regime.

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"We consider this security meeting as the final one," Dabbagh said. "Such a meeting won't happen in the future unless Syria positively responds to the unchallenged evidence and proof presented by Iraq."

Iraqi intelligence has assessed that Syria was harboring at least 100 former senior Saddam aides believed to be directing the insurgency in Iraq.

The assessment said the aides were working with the Al Qaida network to conduct mass-casualty suicide strikes in such cities as Baghdad and Mosul.

Turkey and the Arab League have sought to reconcile Iraq and Syria in wake of the mass-casualty suicide car bombings in Baghdad in August. On late Sept. 17, Arab League secretary-general Amr Mussa had been scheduled to convene the foreign ministers of Iraq and Syria to discuss a way to ease tensions.

The United States has also urged Iraq and Syria to forge security cooperation against Al Qaida. The administration of President Barack Obama has refused to echo Baghdad's accusations of Syrian support to the Al Qaida network in Iraq.

Over the last few weeks, Iraq has released information on Syrian assistance to Al Qaida and Saddam supporters. Baghdad has broadcast confessions of a captured Al Qaida operative who reported training camps in Syria and identified his handlers in Syrian intelligence.

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