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Saudis slams terrorism charges by Iraqi PM

Riyadh says accusations from Nouri al-Maliki that the kingdom finances Sunni fighters in Anbar are unfounded.

Last updated: 10 Mar 2014 21:07
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Maliki charged that Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Qatar were supporting armed groups in Iraq [Reuters]

Saudi Arabia has rejected accusations by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that Riyadh are funding Sunni fighters his troops are battling in Iraq's western Anbar province.

"The kingdom condemns the aggressive and irresponsible statements made by the Iraqi prime minister," an unidentified official told the Saudi Press Agency on Monday.

In an interview aired on Saturday, Maliki charged Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Qatar were supporting armed groups not only in Iraq but across the Middle East as well as terrorism worldwide.

"Nouri al-Maliki knows very well, more than anyone else, the clear and categorical position of the kingdom against terrorism... and is aware of the kingdom's efforts to combat this phenomenon locally and globally," the AFP news agency quoted the official as saying.

Maliki: Saudi and Qatar at war with Iraq

Iraqi forces have been battling fighters of the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Anbar's two main cities since January 1.

ISIL overran Falluja and parts of Ramadi after a tribal revolt provoked by the arrest of a Sunni legislator and the clearing of an anti-government protest camp.

The official said the violence convulsing Iraq was taking place "clearly with the blessing and support of the sectarian and exclusionary policies of his government."

"It is clear that the purpose of these remarks is to try and twist the facts and place the blame on others to cover up the Iraqi prime minister's shortcomings internally that have put Iraq at the service of regional factions who have stoked the fire of sectarian strife," the Saudi source told SPA.

Violence in Iraq has worsened in the past year, with ISIL launching a devastating bombing campaign in mid-2013.

More than 700 people died in violence in February, not including nearly 300 reported deaths in Anbar. Last year was the deadliest since 2008 with nearly 8,000 civilians killed.

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