Iraqi FM says Baghdad not sending fighters to Syria

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Baghdad is not sending any fighters to support the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, the Iraqi foreign minister told Al Arabiya on Saturday.

“Iraq doesn’t offer any official support to any of the parties involved in the Syrian conflict,” Hoshyar Zebari said.

However, the foreign minister said “Iraq doesn’t deny that there are Iraqi volunteer fighters who are heading to fight in Syria,” adding that “there are other volunteers from other nationalities also reaching Syria,” to support Assad regime.

Iraq’s official stance is to support “peaceful transition” of power, and to “respect freedom and the will of the Syrian people,” he said.

The official said having a “peaceful approach” toward the two-year conflict is necessary since Iraq neighbors Syria and will receive “direct” repercussions of the violence.

“Sectarian conflict is coming in the region, and it will include other countries. This is what I have warned of in the past if the conflict is not resolved.”

On Saturday, the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of sending soldiers to give Assad’s regime support against rebels.

The Free Syrian Army chief of staff Salim Idriss also told Al Arabiya Saturday that the Assad regime is currently recruiting more “sectarian” militia fighters from Iraq and Iran.

The Syrian conflict started as anti-Assad protests but morphed into a civil war that killed at least 80,000 people, according to the United Nations.

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