- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 19, 2005

BAGHDAD — Iraq urged its neighbors yesterday to help prevent foreign terrorists from crossing into the country a day after a report that the leaders of Iraq’s most notorious terrorist group had held a secret strategy session in Syria.

More than a dozen Iraqis and four American soldiers were killed yesterday, the latest in a wave of attacks that a top U.S. military official said had been planned at the meeting in Syria.

?There are infiltrations of non-Iraqis through the border to carry out sabotage activities,? Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said of the meeting, which most-wanted militant Abu Musab Zarqawi might have attended.

?It’s up to our geographical neighbors. We are keen to preserve relations between us and neighboring countries, and these relations should be good.?

The prime minister had met earlier with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick, who said Zarqawi’s aim was to divide Iraqi society.

?Part of these attacks stem from the successes of the new government. The insurgents wanted to stop the elections and failed. The insurgents wanted to stop the formation of a new Iraqi government and they failed, so now they are trying to split the society,? Mr. Zoellick said.

He added that ?it’s very clear that this evil wants to destroy a democratic Iraq. These people will not be easy to counter because they commit suicide in a random way.?

U.S. military officials were quoted yesterday noting there had been almost as many car bombings — many of them suicide attacks — in the first 18 days of May as in all of last year.

The suicide attacks are thought to be carried out almost exclusively by foreign extremists who have filtered into Iraq from neighboring countries.

An analysis of Internet claims by Israeli analyst Reuven Paz, cited on Sunday by The Washington Post, found that about 60 percent of the suicide attackers were from Saudi Arabia, with Syrians, Iraqis and Kuwaitis accounting for another 25 percent.

Mr. Zoellick said yesterday that he and Mr. al-Jaafari had discussed the militant meeting in Syria and the prime minister ?was quite strong in his statements about the need for Iraq’s neighbors, and particularly Syria … not to undermine stability here.?

The past weeks have been one of the bloodiest periods since the U.S.-led invasion two years ago. More than 520 people have been killed — including an Oil Ministry employee shot in front of his house yesterday — since a Shi’ite-dominated government was announced April 28.

The Oil Ministry employee, Ali Hamid Alwan al-Dulaimy, 31, was killed by three men firing pistols from a minivan as he walked out of his house toward his car in Baghdad, said his brother, Ahmed Hamid Alwan al-Dulaimy.

Also yesterday, eight persons were killed and three injured in the northern city of Mosul in an ambush aimed at Fawaz al-Jarba, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly who was a candidate for parliament speaker. Mr. al-Jarba was not injured.

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