BAGHDAD -- Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari called on neighboring countries yesterday to help prevent foreign terrorists from crossing into Iraq as a series of attacks killed more than a dozen Iraqis and three American soldiers.
Jaafari's appeal came a day after a top US military official said the leaders of Iraq's most notorious terrorist group recently held a secret meeting in neighboring Syria, where they plotted the recent wave of insurgent violence that has killed hundreds of people.
''There are infiltrations of non-Iraqis through the border to carry out sabotage activities," Jaafari said of the meeting that may have been attended by most-wanted militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi himself. ''It's up to our geographical neighbors. We are keen to preserve relations between us and neighboring countries, and these relations should be good."
He spoke after a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who said Zarqawi's aim was to divide Iraqi society.
Zoellick said he and Jaafari had discussed the militant meeting in Syria and the prime minister ''was quite strong in his statements about the need for Iraq's neighbors, and particularly Syria . . . not to undermine stability here."
The Syrian meeting has led to one of the bloodiest periods since the US-led invasion two years ago. More than 520 people have been killed -- including an oil ministry employee gunned down in front of his house yesterday -- since the country's new Shi'ite-dominated government was announced April 28.
The deadliest attack yesterday occurred in the northern city of Mosul, where insurgents launched an assault on the home of Fawaz al-Jarba, a member of the National Assembly. Al-Jarba escaped unharmed but at least 10 people were killed. US forces, backed by US helicopter gunships, responded to the assault. But al-Jarba later told the Los Angeles Times that the gunships mistakenly fired on his home after driving off four carloads of attackers.
The Americans ''bombed my house and the house of my neighbor," said al-Jarba, a Sunni Arab and former army officer who had fled Saddam Hussein's regime. ''Seven of my security and bodyguards died by fire from both Americans and insurgents."
Two American soldiers were killed when gunmen in a car fired on their convoy in central Baghdad, according to a military statement. A third soldier died when a roadside bomb exploded alongside his convoy in the southeast section of the capital. The names of all three were being withheld pending notification of their families.