Iraqi accusations immoral: Syria

DAMASCUS: President Bashar al-Assad on Monday said allegations that Syria was sheltering people suspected of involvement in devastating bombings in Irag were "immoral" and politically motivated.

His comments came as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu embarked on a mediation bid between Baghdad and Damascus to defuse tensions which worsened last week when the neighbours recalled their respective ambassadors.

"Syria is accused of killing Iraqis although it welcomes 1.2 million Iraqis (refugees)," Assad said at a joint news conference with visiting Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.

"Such accusations are immoral and political," he said.

Iraq has accused Syria of sheltering suspects allegedly involved in one of two devastating truck bombings that targeted government ministries in Baghdad on August 19, killing a total of 95 people and wounding 600.

"When accusations are not based on any proof, this means they are illogical in the eyes of the law," Assad said, again calling on Iraq to present evidence about its allegations.

"As soon as the accusations were made, Syria officially asked Iraq to send a delegation to Damascus with proof," he said. "So far we have not received any reply."

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Thursday ties between Iraq and Syria were in the balance, after they called home their respective envoys.

"Our relations with Syria have reached a crossroads of whether they choose to have good relations with Iraq, or whether they choose to protect persons who attack Iraq," Dabbagh said.

Meanwhile Turkey's foreign minister was in Baghdad on Monday for talks with Iraqi officials ahead of visiting Damascus later in the day in a bid to defuse the tensions.

"We will try to re-establish an atmosphere of trust between the two sides," Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters at Ankara airport before beginning his shuttle diplomacy mission.