Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of openly funding the insurgents his troops are battling in western Anbar province, in his strongest such statement since fighting started there early this year.
"I accuse them of inciting and encouraging the terrorist movements. I accuse them of supporting them politically and in the media, of supporting them with money and by buying weapons for them," Maliki told France 24 television late on Saturday.
"I accuse them of leading an open war against the Iraqi government. I accuse them of openly hosting leaders of al-Qaeda and takfiris (extremists)," he said in the interview when asked about possible Saudi and Qatari links to the violence.
Maliki has long had chilly relations with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, which view him as too close to Iran, and has long suspected them of funding al-Qaeda-linked groups in order to bring down his government.
He accused the Saudi government of allowing "commissions" there "to attract jihadis, to lure them, to get them fighting in Iraq".
He also blamed both countries for launching Syria's war through al-Qaeda-linked groups that now operate on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border, next to Anbar.
"They are attacking Iraq through Syria indirectly. They absolutely started the war in Iraq, they started the war in Syria," Maliki said.
32 killed in suicide bombing in Hilla
Meanwhile, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle at a crowded checkpoint south of Baghdad on Sunday, killing 32 people and damaging dozens of cars, Iraqi police and a medical source said, according to AFP.
The checkpoint blast at the northern entrance to the city of Hilla also wounded 147 people.
Militants carry out frequent attacks on security forces, and they also target areas where crowds of people gather. The checkpoint combined the two.
Violence in Iraq has killed more than 120 people so far this month, and over than 1,850 since the beginning of the year, according to figures based on security and medical sources.
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