Iraqi parliament chief warns on Syrian unrest

Iraq's Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi is concerned about the "catastrophic" crisis in Syria, which he believes could lead to civil confrontations, a Tuesday statement from his office said.

Nujaifi "expressed concern about the crisis in Syria, describing it as "catastrophic," during a meeting with a delegation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the statement said.

He said that "it could lead to civil confrontations, and international intervention could cause the division of the country," it added.

Since March, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime has carried out a bloody crackdown on an uprising against his rule in which more than 6,000 people have been killed, according to figures compiled by rights groups.

While there are still civilian protests in Syria, the focus has now shifted to armed conflict with regime forces.

Iraq's Interior Minister said in an interview with AFP on Saturday that jihadists are moving from Iraq to Syria and arms are also smuggled across the border to opponents of Assad's regime.

The majority of Syrians are Sunni Muslim, while Assad is from the Alawite community, an offshoot of Shia Islam, lending a sectarian element to the conflict.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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