AMMAN, Jordan – Iraq's defense minister slammed Damascus on Sunday for letting militants train on Syrian soil and warned that an escalation of violence in Iraq will spill over into neighboring countries.
Saadoun al-Dulaimi's visit to Jordan follows Wednesday's triple hotel suicide bombings in the Jordanian capital Amman by the Al Qaeda in Iraq terror group, which killed 57 people.
"We have more than 450 detainees who came from different Arab and Muslim countries to train in Syria and enter with their booby-trapped vehicles into Iraq to bring destruction and killings," al-Dulaimi said after meeting Jordanian Prime Minister Adnan Badran.
"Let me tell the Syrians that if the Iraqi volcano explodes, no neighboring capital will be saved," al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press.
The Iraqi minister demanded more anti-terror support from Damascus, which is already facing intense pressure from the United States to lock down its borders and stop extremists allied with Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, from entering the country.
"Iraq is bordering several countries, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, but why is it only the Syrian borders that I have complained more than once about?" al-Dulaimi said.
"We have a 620-kilometer border with this country and we have 620 problems with the Syrians," he said. "It seems our brothers in Syria won't like what we say in this critical period for the Syrians."
A United Nations investigation team recently accused top Syrian intelligence officials of involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Earlier this month, the U.N. Security Council passed a unanimous resolution demanding Syria cooperate fully in the ongoing U.N. investigation into Hariri's killing.
Iraqi and U.S. forces have been trying to crush Iraq's rampant insurgency for the past two years. But despite multiple U.S.-Iraqi operations targeting suspected militant bases, militants led by al-Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein loyalists continue to attack across the country.
Al Qaeda in Iraq's operation in Jordan — its deadliest inside a neighboring Mideast country — has also raised fears that al-Zarqawi's terror campaign has gained enough momentum to spread throughout the region.
Jordan's King Abdullah has said that the homicide bombers who targeted the Radisson SAS, Grand Hyatt and Days Inn hotels were likely to have been Iraqi and entered Jordan from either Syria or Iraq.
Al-Dulaimi also offered Iraq's condolences and support to Jordan to try and find those responsible for the hotel attacks, this kingdom's deadliest ever.
"We are partners in facing terrorism," he said.
"Amman's ordeal and Jordan's ordeal is the ordeal of all Iraqis," he said. The terrorists' aim "is to kill tolerance and destroy coexistence in Arab and Muslim cities."