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Syria Fails To Stop Terrorists Entering Iraq, U.S.

Syria Fails To Stop Terrorists Entering Iraq, U.S. and Iraq Say

U.N. Security Council hears report on Iraq on behalf of multinational force

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- U.S. and Iraqi envoys to the United Nations September 21 singled out Syria as the major source of terrorists entering Iraq.

Iraqi Ambassador Hoshyar Zebari told the Security Council, "we feel strongly that there is a lack of political will in Syria towards its commitment to Iraq."

"Regrettably, the bulk of foreign fighters and terrorists are infiltrating from Syria and the Syrian government has not demonstrated any serious cooperation to help us stop their transit," Zebari said.

"We repeat our call upon our neighbors to tighten border control, act forcefully against hateful propaganda, and demonstrate clear action to stamping out the tide of terror," he said. "The alternative to peace is bloodshed and endless violence by an emboldened enemy with an established base from which to export [its] murderous campaign."

Zebari said that his government expects the terrorists "to step up their attempts to create civil tensions and prevent national unity" ahead of the constitutional referendum set for October 15.

SYRIA MUST DO MORE TO STOP TERRORISTS, UNITED STATES SAYS

Reporting to the Security Council on behalf of the 30 countries making up the multination force (MNF) in Iraq, U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson said that Syria must do more to stop foreign terrorists from entering Iraq.

"The international community, particularly Iraq's neighbors, and especially Syria, must do more to stop foreign terrorists entering Iraq and retarding efforts to stabilize and secure the country," the ambassador said.

"The gravest human rights violation in Iraq today are the senseless atrocities inflicted upon us by terrorists," Zebari said. "We are bearing the brunt of thousands of our people being slaughtered by foreign extremists, or thugs of the former regime who have bitterly lost their iron grip on Iraq's riches."

"They have only a nihilistic message, but no agenda, for Iraq or the region, except to prevent democratic ideals taking root through a deadly cycle of violence and terror," he said.

Patterson said that Iraqi security forces in partnership with the MNF have increasingly conducted a full range of counter-insurgency operations to isolate and neutralize former regime extremists and foreign terrorists.

Special border forces consisting of over 17,000 trained and equipped personnel are arrayed into 36 battalions that man 258 border forts around Iraq, she said. To stem the flow of foreign fighters, priority has been placed on securing the Iraqi-Syrian border, the ambassador said.

MULTINATIONAL FORCE REMAINS COMMITTED TO IRAQ’S SECURITY

The MNF and Iraqi security forces "continue to provide a shield for democracy to take shape, evolve, and take hold in Iraq," she said. "The MNF remains committed to staying the course and to ensuring success."

"We in this chamber also owe it to the Iraqi people to do our part to help ensure success," Patterson added.

Zebari said that Iraq needs the help of the international community: the MNF for security, the Development Fund for Iraq to rebuild, and the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) "to lead the international effort."

Saying that Iraq is heading into a "critical phase" the next three months, Ambassador Zebari asked the United Nations to broaden its physical outreach, provide more personnel, and take a "more vocal and more visible role" in helping with the referendum scheduled for October and the nationwide general elections scheduled for December.

Iraq "provides a test case" for the United Nations, Zebari said. Staying out of Iraq, "affords terrorists a measure of success," he added.

The more Iraqi security and military capabilities are built up, the sooner the MNF can leave, he said. But Iraq still needs "more training, better intelligence, better forces, and better coordination."

"Nowhere are the goals of freedom, democracy and progress more at stake. We know our clear way forward, but we need . . . the help of every member nation and this organization to win this fight," Zebari said.

"The more intense your engagement now, the sooner we will be able to stand on our own feet and defend a democratic, united, prosperous and free Iraq," he said.

The text of Ambassador Patterson's statement is available on the U.S. Mission to the United Nations Web site.

For additional information, see Iraq Update.

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