Assad envoys 'make unannounced visit to Baghdad'

Assad envoys 'make unannounced visit to Baghdad'
A military delegation from the Syrian regime is in the Green Zone of Baghdad where it is to meet with Iraqi officials in a secret visit, according to official sources.
2 min read
14 February, 2016
Maliki (L) and his successor Abadi has maintained close ties to the Syrian regime [AFP]
Syrian regime officials arrived in Baghdad on Sunday in an unannounced visit, Iraqi government sources told The New Arab. Assad's envoys will meet with political leaders in Iraq, the sources added, but will not be meeting with Prime Minister Abadi.

"The [regime] delegation includes six figures, most of whom military officials, and arrived in Baghdad on Sunday morning coming from Damascus, staying in the Green Zone," an Iraqi official said.

The delegation met with Shia political leaders in the ruling National Alliance, according to the source, but who said the prime minister will probably not meet with the Syrian emissaries because he is preoccupied with the negotiations for his cabinet overhaul.

This would the second visit of its kind in the past two months. In late January, a military delegation came to Baghdad to take part in a meeting of the so-called quadripartite alliance led by Moscow (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia).

Relations between Baghdad and the Assad regime is a subject of contention between Iraqi political Forces.

The relationship between Baghdad and the Assad regime is the subject of dispute between the Sunni-majority Union of Iraqi Forces and the ruling coalition in particular.

The first has called for severing ties with the Syrian regime in line with the resolutions of the Arab League, while the government of Haider al-Abadi and Nouri al-Maliki before him are known for maintaining close ties to the Syrian regime.

The purpose of the visit was not confirmed by the Iraqi source, but leaked reports suggest it has to do with the presence in Baghdad of Kurdish leaders from the Workers' Party (PKK), which is fighting an insurgency against Turkey.

The PKK leaders could meet with Syrian regime officials in Baghdad under the auspices of former Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki, the reports suggest.

The PKK is thought to maintain close ties to Iraqi leaders including Maliki, Popular Mobilisation leaders and the Iraqi President Fuad Masum.