Middle East

Iraqi PM orders all borders open to Syria refugees-Iraqi general

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki speaks during the opening ceremony of the Defence University for Military Studies inside Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone, June 17, 2012, file photo.( REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani)

AL-WALEED, Iraq: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has told Iraq's border officials to allow Syrian refugees into the county, a senior border commander said.

"The order came 30 minutes ago," General Issam Yassim told Reuters at Iraq's southern Al-Waleed border crossing with Syria, 560 km west of Baghdad.

He said it applied to all Iraqi border crossings with Syria.

Al-Waleed, one of Iraq's three main border crossings with Syria, is held by Syrian government forces and has been the main crossing point for Iraqis fleeing the violence in Syria, especially from Damascus.

Syrian rebels say they hold the Albu Kamal-Qaim crossing, based on a major trade further north. It was sealed by the Iraqi army fearing a spillover of violence.

Rabia, near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, passed briefly to rebel hands but is now under the command of the Syrian government forces.

There is another crossing in Iraqi Kurdistan, near the Turkish border. Thousands of Iraqis have already returned due to violence in Syria and continued sectarian violence in Iraq -- at least 89 people died in gun and bomb attacks against mostly Shiite Muslim targets on Monday.





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