Last updated: 17 July, 2012

Baghdad urges Iraqis to leave Syria

The Iraqi government on Tuesday urged its citizens in strife-hit Syria, mainly refugees from their country’s own violence, to return home because of “increasing attacks” on them.

“Iraqis are guests who live temporarily in Syria and the Iraqi government calls on them to return to the country,” government spokesman Ali Dabbagh said.

He urged “Iraqis in Syria to return to the country after an increase in attacks against them.”

The call comes a day after the bodies of two Iraqi men identified as journalists, who were stabbed and shot dead in Damascus, were handed over at a border post with Syria.

“Two Iraqi journalists, Ali Juburi al-Kaabi and Falah Taha, were killed by knives and bullets in Jaramana area,” Colonel Abdelbasit al-Hilo, the Iraqi commander of Al-Waleed border post, told AFP, referring to a suburb of Damascus.

Al-Waleed border post lies at the southern edge of Iraq’s border with Syria and is referred to as Tenef on the Syrian side.

Hilo said the two men carried identification documents from the Iraqi Journalists’ Union, but it was not clear who they worked for.

The UNHCR said in late 2010 that about 1.5 million Iraqi refugees were in Syria but only around 150,000 were registered. The figure does not include those there for business or education.