Iraqi Official: Syria Not Stopping Insurgents
ISTANBUL, Turkey – Iraq's interior minister accused Syria on Monday of not making a serious effort to crack down on insurgents in its territory or prevent them from crossing into Iraq, adding that he had pictures and addresses of militant leaders in Syria.
Bayan Jabr (search), in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, also said while Jordan was committed to stopping the flow of money from its territory to insurgents, many Jordanians and Iraqi expatriates in the country were still succeeding in getting significant financial support to the militants.
Jabr indicated he was not optimistic that Damascus would curb supporters of the insurgency on its territory.
"They say, 'We are ready to cooperate,' and I hope they cooperate, but only talking is not sufficient," Jabr said a day before the interior ministers of Iraq's neighbors were scheduled to meet in Istanbul. "We need real steps to capture these names."
Asked whether Syria has increased measures to stop insurgents from crossing its border, Jabr said: "I can say no."
He said insurgent leaders were in Syria "and I have addressees and pictures with me of these terrorists."
But when asked whether he expected Syria to cooperate, Jabr shook his head.
"We have to protect our borders," he added.
Jabr also voiced concerns about the financial backing coming from supporters of the insurgency living in Jordan.
Speaking from his room in a former Ottoman palace on the Bosporus (search) that now serves as a hotel, Jabr pointed to Saddam Hussein's wife, Sajida, and his daughter, Raghad, who he said live in Jordan and sent $100 million to support the militants.
"Jordan doesn't support the insurgency, but the people in Jordan do," Jabr said, adding that "there are many Iraqis who support the insurgency who are living in Amman."
Jabr also said that a trial for Saddam was important to send a message to insurgents that the Iraqi dictator will never return to power.
He said that some former members of the regime "support the insurgency because they believe he will return back."
After Saddam's trial, "they will know he will never return back."
In late May, some 40,000 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers launched Operation Lightning (search) against insurgents hiding in the Baghdad area. U.S. officials have said the operation, which involves targeted raids and security sweeps, has significantly reduced the rebels' capability to launch sustained, high-level attacks in the capital.
But in the past week alone, suicide bombers have killed at least 170 people in Iraq.
A second stage in the operation will begin next week and will target insurgents operating in the area surrounding Baghdad, Jabr said.
He added that his ministry was recruiting new police and he expects the force of 67,000 to double by the beginning of 2006.
After the new police are deployed "then we can see if we can control [the insurgency] or not," he said. "The terrorists will be finished, but it takes time."
He called for global cooperation in the fight against terror, saying no place in the world is immune from the threat.
"If they succeed in Iraq, believe me they will reach everywhere in the world," he said. "If they make bases in Iraq, all the petrol areas will be attacked."