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Syria imposes tough regulations for entry of Iraqi citizens

According to informed Syrian officials, based on the new rules, any Iraqi citizen, regardless of his/her current citizenship, needs to acquire an entry visa for arriving Syria's soil.
Syria imposes tough regulations for entry of Iraqi citizens
Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran

Damascus, April 21, IRNA -- In order to minimize the often repeated US accusations on having become a safe haven for the officials of the ousted regime of Saddam Hussain, Syria has imposed tough regulations for entry of Iraqi citizens as of last Thursday.

According to informed Syrian officials, based on the new rules, any Iraqi citizen, regardless of his/her current citizenship, needs to acquire an entry visa for arriving Syria's soil.

Such visas are granted only to those Iraqi citizens whose relatives live in Syria.

The Iraqi Syrian-visa holders, too, can stay in Syria only for a period of maximum three months, and must leave immediately after the expiry date of their visas is due, or before that date.

According to these sources, the Syrian Passport Organization will also issue transit visas for those Iraqi citizens who wish to return to their country via Syrian soil.

Meanwhile, coinciding with the implementation of these tough measures adopted by Syrian officials, that are interpreted in the context of Syria's attempts aimed at warding off the US pressure, a large majority of the Iraqi citizens residing in Syria, who are mainly residing at Zeynabiyyeh district of Damascus in the south of the capital, are heading for Iraq.

The Syrian officials create no problems in the way of these Iraqis' return home.

Representative of Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (SCIRI) in Syria and Lebanon Bayan Jabr told IRNA that following the collapse of Saddam's regime a large number of Iraqi citizens abroad, both those involved in politics, and ordinary citizens, have started repatriating to their country.

On the role of Iraq's Interests Section in Damascus, that is positioned opposite to the US Embassy, and its employees, particularly its head Muhammad Raf'at al-Anani, are related to the subjects of the ousted regime of Saddam, Jabr said, "from the moment that Saddam's regime was overthrown on April 9th, all members of that office announced they are not related to the ousted regime.

"They torn apart the photographs of Saddam and there are no signs of the ousted Iraqi regime there now," he added.

Some 25,000 Iraqi citizens live in Syria, over 4,000 of whom left for Iraq during the past week. It is also estimated that some 2,000 more Iraqis living in Syria would leave for Iraq during the current week.

The SCIRI official predicted that by the end of April over 15,000 Iraqi citizens living in Syria would have left for Iraq, while those who will remain include the Iraqis that have commercial interests in Syria.

Such citizens, too, will leave for Iraq as soon as the economic situation in Iraq is stabilized and upon gaining guarantees that they can transfer their capitals to their own country.

homepage: homepage: http://www.irna.com/en/head/030421021552.ehe.shtml