- The Washington Times - Monday, July 18, 2005

ISTANBUL — Iraq’s interior minister accused Syria yesterday 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 also said that although Jordan was committed to stopping the flow of money from its territory to insurgents, many Jordanians and Iraqi expatriates in the country still were sending significant financial support to the militants.

Foreign support has been instrumental to Iraq’s insurgency, which continued with a series of small-scale ambushes and shootings yesterday. Gunmen killed at least 24 police, troops and government workers yesterday. An Iraqi general said about 50 insurgency suspects were captured in the first days of a security operation in Baghdad.

More than 170 Iraqis were killed this weekend, prompting a legislator yesterday to call for the formation of private militias to protect citizens. Others warned that the country was sliding toward civil war between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.

Mr. Jabr indicated that 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,” he said a day before his counterparts from neighboring countries were 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, Mr. Jabr said, “I can say no,” adding that leaders of the insurgency were in Syria and that he has “addressees and pictures with me of these terrorists.”

Mr. Jabr also voiced concerns about the financial backing from supporters of the insurgency living in Jordan. He said former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s wife, Sajida, and his daughter, Raghad, who he said live in Jordan, had sent $100 million to support the militants.

“Jordan doesn’t support the insurgency, but the people in Jordan do,” Mr. Jabr said, adding that “there are many Iraqis who support the insurgency who are living in Amman.”

Iraqis yesterday enjoyed a respite from the wave of suicide bombings that killed more than 90 people on Saturday and 22 in the capital on Sunday.

However, a car bomb targeted U.S. and Iraqi troops in Rawah, 175 miles northwest of Baghdad, witnesses reported. At least one person, thought to have been a civilian, reportedly was killed.

The deadliest attack yesterday was in the western Baghdad district of Khadra, where eight policemen died in a gunbattle with insurgents, police said.

During a heated debate in parliament, legislator Khudair al-Khuzai said that the “plans of the Interior and Defense ministries to impose security in Iraq have failed.”

“We need to bring back popular militias,” he added, without expanding.

Although there was some backing for his proposal, there are concerns that militias formed along sectarian lines could lead the country closer to civil war, with Shi’ites and Sunnis already involved in tit-for-tat killings.

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