Wounded Syria soldiers treated in Iraq: spokesman

Four wounded Syrian regime soldiers were being treated at a north Iraq hospital on Saturday, during clashes with rebels on the Syrian side of the border, the Iraqi defence ministry's spokesman said.

"Four wounded Syrian soldiers were moved to Rabia Hospital, which is close to the Yaarubiyeh border crossing" from Syria into Iraq's Nineveh province, Mohammed al-Askari told AFP by telephone.

"There are clashes between the two sides inside Syrian territory, but as an Iraqi force this is unrelated to us and we did not interfere," although fire from both regime and rebel forces had hit Iraqi territory, Askari said.

First Lieutenant Abdul Nasser al-Shammari, a member of the border police, said there was heavy fighting on the Syrian side of the border on Saturday, but that Iraqi forces did not open fire.

Second Lieutenant Mohammed al-Shammari, also of the border police, said that Syrian warplanes were bombing on the Syrian side of the frontier.

Baghdad has pointedly avoided calling for the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is locked in a bloody civil war with rebels opposed to his regime, and has instead urged an end to violence by all parties.

But US officials have repeatedly called on the Iraqi government to halt Iranian flights to Syria via Iraqi airspace, which they say are carrying weapons to Assad's forces.