‘Come home’ plea from Iraqi parliament to refugees who settled in Syria
Iraq has called on tens of thousands of its citizens still living in Syria to return home because of escalating violence there, after police said two Iraqi journalists had been killed in Damascus.
The Iraqi cabinet voiced concern about the “increasing incidents of murder and assault on Iraqis living in Syria”, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.
“The Iraqi government calls on them to come home,” he added, saying Iraqi authorities would do everything in their power to help citizens return.
Syria was home to up to 1.4 million Iraqis at the height of violence in Iraq. The security situation in Iraq is still perilous despite an easing in sectarian conflict which killed tens of thousands in 2006-7.
Last month at least 237 people were killed and 603 wounded in militant attacks in the country, mainly bombings, one of the bloodiest months since US troops withdrew at the end of last year.
About 87,000 Iraqis are registered in Syria with the UN Refugee Agency, said Liqaa al-Wardi, head of the displaced persons committee in the Iraqi parliament. That compares with about 143,000 registered at the beginning of 2011, before the Syrian revolt began in March that year, she said.
Iraq said earlier this month it had reinforced security along its 420 mile desert border with Syria, making it Iraq’s most heavily guarded frontier.
Earlier on Tuesday a senior Iraqi police official said Syrian authorities had handed over the bodies of two Iraqi journalists who were killed in Damascus while reporting on the uprising.
One of the men, Ali Juburi al-Kaabi, was the editor of weekly Baghdad-based newspaper Al-Rawaa, the official said.
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