AP INTERVIEW: Syria official warns of Iraq threat

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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A Syrian cabinet minister warned on Monday that the dramatic events in neighboring Iraq threaten to implode the entire Middle East and undermine security in Europe and beyond.

Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press in Damascus, Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi also said reports that Sunni insurgents have started to transfer weapons and equipment from Iraq to Syria were true.

The militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are carving out an ever-expanding fiefdom along the Iraqi-Syrian border. Earlier this month, they seized Iraq's second largest city of Mosul -- and they have vowed to march on to the Iraqi capital Baghdad as well. In the past few days, the militants seized several strategically located towns along the Euphrates River, including border crossings — advancing their efforts to etch out a large region straddling the two conflict-ridden countries.

"What is happening in Iraq is dangerous and threatens the security of the entire region," al-Zoubi said. "It threatens the security of the Gulf, of Iran, Turkey and the entire Middle East. It also touches directly the security of Europe and international security."

Al-Zoubi said the international community including the U.S. has adopted policies that "encouraged" the spread of "terrorism" in the Middle East. He added that the world must unite its efforts to eradicate this unfolding threat.

"Confronting the armed terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq is a national duty. The Iraqi army is confronting those in Iraq and Syria is confronting those in Syria," he said.

The Syrian government has long insisted that the rebels in Syria were foreign-inspired "terrorists" as opposed to democracy-seeking Syrians.

He said that militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant were transporting weapons and vehicles from Iraq to Syria, but did not elaborate. He vowed, however, that the Syrian government would strike them.

"No one can change the national borders of the Syrian state. It is the duty and right of the Syrian government to confront any attempt to infringe on its national sovereignty or establish a so-called emirate on any part of the Syrian territory," he said.

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