Iraq reopened its border with Syria on Tuesday to receive refugees escaping violence, but refused entry to young men for security reasons, Iraqi officials said.
“They (the central government) fear that some of those young men could be members of al Qaeda or the Free Syrian Army,” a local government official in Iraq’s Anbar province said.
Al Qaim was closed at the end of August when Syrian forces backed by jets fought rebels for control of an airfield and military base near the Syrian border town of Albu Kamal, within metres of the crossing and on a major supply route from Iraq.
“The prime minister gave orders to receive 100 refugees daily and the priority is for women, children, elderly, wounded and sick people, but excluded young men,” al Qaim’s mayor Farhan Ftaikhan told Reuters by phone.
Fathers, brothers, and sons will apparently not be able to join their families’ in safety.