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Washington stays out of Iraq-Syria row

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- The diplomatic fallout between Damascus and Baghdad regarding the deadly Aug. 19 bombings in Iraq is an internal matter for both countries, U.S. officials say.

Baghdad and Damascus pulled their respective ambassadors from their posts amid accusations Baath Party loyalists in Syria were behind a series of coordinated attacks that killed more than 100 people Aug. 19.

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Ian Kelly, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said the matter was an internal affair between both countries.

"We consider that an internal matter," he said. "We believe that, as a general principle, that diplomatic dialogue is the best means to address the concerns of both parties."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was quick to blame Baathist elements in Syria for fomenting violence in his country. The attacks came just days after Maliki met with Syrian President Bashir Assad to urge him to hand over suspects Baghdad believes are behind some of the political violence.

Damascus issued a statement through its official news agency Wednesday denying any of the allegations. A branch of al-Qaida in Iraq, meanwhile, issued a claim of responsibility for the Aug. 19 attacks.

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Kelly said Washington was working with the Iraqi government "to determine who perpetrated these horrible acts of violence."

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