‘No US strike against Syria from Iraq’

  • Talabani says his capabilities are limited in confronting America’s might
  • Syria says UN resolution ‘very negative’

DUBAI: Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said in remarks published on Tuesday he would oppose the use of Iraqi territory as a launchpad for any US military strike on Syria.

“I absolutely reject that Iraqi territory be used as a launchpad for any military strike against Syria or any other Arab country,” Talabani told Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat.

“But this is my personal opinion and my capabilities are limited in confronting America’s might ... I cannot impose my opinion on them,” he added in an interview.

US President George W Bush said last month that military action would be a last resort to deal with Syria, which Washington accuses of allowing foreign fighters to cross the border into Iraq, where US troops are fighting a blooding insurgency. Talabani, who also heads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), had a long-standing alliance with Syria which allowed him to operate from its territory against former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

“I will not say a word against Syria which I owe a lot to. If I have anything to say I will relay it directly to brother (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad,” Talabani said.

Fears of US military action heightened following a UN investigation which implicated Syrian officials in the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, an opponent of Syrian domination of his country, and 22 others in February.

The report said the killing was organised by Syrian security officials and their Lebanese allies.

The Security Council voted unanimously on Monday for a resolution ordering Syria to cooperate fully with the UN investigation or face possible “further action.”

The resolution warns the council “could consider further action” if Syria does not meet demands in the resolution. Syria denies the charges and says it was conducting its own probe.

Syria said on Tuesday a UN resolution ordering it to cooperate fully with a probe of the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister was “very negative” towards the country as it was adopted unanimously.

“We consider the resolution to be very negative towards Syria and as it is unanimous this makes it more problematic,” a Foreign Ministry source told Reuters.

“It is accusatory and adopts the assumptions that (chief UN investigator Detlev) Mehlis had arrived at which we consider hasty and not objective enough.” reuters