Iraq warns against arming Syrian rebels

BAGHDAD - Iraq on Sunday warned Arab countries against supplying weapons and financial support to rebels fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying such moves risked escalating the conflict.
"We want to extinguish the fire by draining the sources of force, we want to find a peaceful solution to the crisis," Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told reporters at a press conference.
"We reject any arming of the opposition, we reject attempts to bring down the regime by force, because it will leave a wider crisis in the region," he added.
Maliki made the appeal as foreign ministers from around 70 countries including the United States and leading European and Gulf powers met in Istanbul to try to agree how best to support the Syrian opposition.
Iraq's Shi'ite-led government has adopted a more moderate position on Syria than Sunni Gulf neighbors Qatar and Saudi Arabia which have advocated supplying arms to the Syrian rebels.
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