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'Syria, Turkey to prevent break-up of Iraq'

Syria, Turkey and Iran, are working together to ensure the country does not break up following the US-led invasion.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2003 23:39 IST

Three of Iraq's neighbours, Syria, Turkey and Iran, are working together to ensure the country does not break up following the US-led invasion, a senior Syrian foreign ministry official said on Tuesday.

"Consultation, coordination of efforts, is taking place in order to keep the unity and the territorial integrity of Iraq," Bussaina Shaaban, head of the ministry's information office, told a press conference.

"The three countries want to preserve the unity of Iraq, to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people and to put an end to this horrible suffering of the Iraqi people," she said.

Iran, Syria and Turkey all have Kurdish minorities.

They fear any move towards independence by the Iraqi Kurdish community, a key US ally in the war against the Baghdad regime, could set an example for their kinsmen in neighbouring countries.

Ankara and Tehran notably fear US forces might allow Iraqi Kurds to seize northern Iraq's oil capital of Kirkuk and boost their demands for autonomy.

Shaaban's briefing followed an accusation by Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara in a television interview broadcast in Turkey on Monday that the US-led coalition is aiming to partition Iraq. He urged Iran and Turkey to join with Damascus to prevent such a development.

Syria has been among the most vocal in the Arab world in condemning the US and British invasion.

First Published: Apr 08, 2003 23:39 IST