Iraq, Syria pull ambassadors as bombing suspects sought

Plastic flowers decorate a car destroyed in last week's bombings in Baghdad, Iraq.
The Iraqi government, seeking the handover of two suspects in last week’s bombings, on Tuesday summoned home its ambassador to Syria. Hours later, Syria’s state-run news agency SANA reported.that Syria had decided to pull its ambassador from Iraq.

The Iraqi Council of Ministers on Tuesday demanded that Syria hand over the suspects in the attacks on Iraqi government buildings that killed at least 100 people. The suspects are two Iraqis who live in Syria. Both are members of former President Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. The council said Iraqi authorities believe the two played “direct roles in the execution of the terror attack,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement. The Council of Ministers also demanded that Syria “hand over all those wanted [by the judiciary] for committing crimes of murder and destruction against the Iraqi people.” It further demanded that Syria expel “terrorist organizations that use Syria as a headquarters and launch pad to plan terrorist operations against the Iraqi people.” SANA reported that the Syrian government rejected the statements made by the Iraqi government.

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A string of bombings struck Iraq’s capital last week, with two truck bombings ripping through the Iraqi Finance Ministry and Foreign Ministry. At least 100 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded in Baghdad’s bloodiest day since U.S. troops handed over security control to Iraqi forces and moved outside of Iraqi cities nearly two months ago. On Tuesday, the Islamic State of Iraq — the umbrella group for al Qaeda in Iraq — released a statement claiming responsibility for the bombings. The two suspects demanded by the Council of Ministers on Tuesday are Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed, a senior Baath member living in Syria, and Sattam Farhan, another Baath leader in Syria. On Sunday, Iraqi authorities broadcast what they called a confession from a man who said Farhan gave him orders to participate in the attacks. Authorities have detained 11 senior Iraqi officials who were in charge of security around the buildings.