Syria Watch

Near & Middle East politics and terror analysis.

Syria Watch

freedomfiles
Joined: 07 May 2006, 23:31

23 Sep 2006, 21:12 #1

Syria - Islam's Rising Star

War in Lebanon has dramatically altered the political spectrum in Syria. Support for Hezbollah is strong, and many now call for the re-capture of the Golan Heights. In a nationally televised address to the Syrian Journalist Union, President Bashar al Assad issued a stark warning to Israel; “Your weapons, warplanes, rockets and even your atomic bombs will not protect you”. He is playing a dangerous game.

http://video.google.nl/videoplay?docid= ... 5696027216

Syria - Stoking the Fires

As Hezbollah’s principal sponsor Syria has a key role to play in determining if the truce will hold. But the mood in Syria is militant. In return for peace it’s likely to demand the return of the Golan Heights.

http://video.google.nl/videoplay?docid= ... 1807378490
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freedomfiles
Joined: 07 May 2006, 23:31

22 Feb 2007, 03:29 #2

Farid N. Ghadry: Syria's Ahmed Chalabi ?

Farid N. Ghadry (also Farid al-Ghadry and Frank Ghadry) is co-founder and current president of the Reform Party of Syria (RPS), a "'US-based opposition party' of pro-democracy Syrians", and the president of the Syrian Democratic Coalition.

Ghadry was born in Syria and, in 1964, at the age of 8, emigrated to Lebanon with his family. Ghadry came to the United States in 1975.

Described as a "discredited businessman from Virginia" who is "Syria’s version of Ahmad Chalabi" by Robert Dreyfuss April 17, 2006, in The American Prospect, Ghadry is "a secular, pro-democracy Sunni from a majority-Sunni country. He is charming and articulate, enjoys driving his kids to soccer practice, and favors a Syrian peace with Israel," Elizabeth Eaves wrote February 7, 2005, in Slate. When Eaves asked Ghadry "why he started the Reform Party of Syria, he said that he and his wife had reached a comfortable point in their lives, with their children nearly grown, and decided that they wanted to give something back. Who wouldn't find such a philanthropic impulse appealing? She joined the board of a children's hospital, and he decided to overthrow a government."

Ghadry is a member of AIPAC. On May 15, 2003, Eli J. Lake wrote in The National Review: "His organization is only now getting off the ground," and "a Syrian who belongs to one of Israel's main lobbying groups is not exactly a strong political candidate in a country that remains one of the most rabidly anti-Israel in the region. As Ghadry himself admits, 'The Syrians are not ready for someone who wants to make peace with Israel.'"

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?ti ... _N._Ghadry

Syria's terror networks
By Farid N. Ghadry / February 20, 2007
http://washingtontimes.com/op-ed/200702 ... -1711r.htm
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numeral
Joined: 04 Dec 2005, 17:55

26 May 2007, 16:36 #3

The March to War: Syria Preparing for US-Israeli Attacks
by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, May 25, 2007


            "To the east there is the Resistance in Iraq, to the west there is the Resistance in Lebanon and to the south there is the Resistance of the Palestinian people. We, in Syria, are at the heart of all these events!”

              -Basher Al-Assad, 10th President of Syria (April 30, 2007)

Syria was in the sights of the White House and Pentagon since the advent of the “Global War on Terror.” Attacks on Lebanon and Syria have long been expected as a phase in the American-led war march unfolding in the Middle East and Central Asia in the wake of  the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

The U.S. government itself has clarified that it was considering invading Syria after the fall of Baghdad in 2003. [1] The U.S. Congress in 2003 also started to re-evaluate strengthening the Syrian Accountability Act. The Guardian, a major British newspaper, reported during the initial days of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in April of 2003 that Syria was a potential military target:
In the past few weeks, the U.S. defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, ordered contingency plans for a war on Syria to be reviewed following the fall of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, his undersecretary for policy, Doug Feith, and William Luti, the head of the Pentagon’s office of special plans, were asked to put together a briefing paper on the case for war against Syria, outlining its role in supplying weapons to Saddam Hussein, its links with Middle East terrorist groups and its allegedly advanced chemical weapons programme. Mr. Feith and Mr. Luti were both instrumental in persuading the White House to go to war in Iraq.

Mr. Feith and other conservatives now playing important roles in the Bush administration, advised the Israeli government in 1996 that it could “shape its strategic environment... by weakening, containing and even rolling back Syria.” [2]
The 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon was also initiated for strategic reasons, which included the subjugation of Syria, as a continuation of the Pentagon’s plans to strike Syria. This has been acknowledged by Israeli and U.S. government officials and there are numerous international press reports to validate this. In fact on October 8, 2003, months after the fall of Baghdad to U.S. tanks and soldiers, Israeli fighter jets made air raids inside Syrian territory. The Syrians restrained themselves refusing to be baited into a war. The Syrian President gave a rare public response to the Israeli air strike in Syria accusing Ariel Sharon and the Israeli government of trying to drag Syria and the entire region into a “new war.” [3]

Syria is now the subject of intense covert and overt diplomatic U.S. and E.U. pressure as the Anglo-American war machine is running out of time. Attempts are also underway to create a wedge between Iran and Syria. Military provisions are additionally underway on the immediate borders of Syria for a possible war in the Levant and a broader Middle Eastern war that would stretch from the borders of Egypt and Turkey to the frontier of Western China. Israel is also making preparations for yet another war, while the U.S. and British militaries continue to marshal their armed forces into Afghanistan, Iraq, and the broader Middle East.

Controlling Syria can heavily influence the geo-strategic realities and environment in the Middle East. The geo-strategic position of Syria places it at a critical juncture between Lebanon, Palestine, and Anglo-American occupied Iraq; three fronts that the U.S. and its allies are actively engaged in. Three intertwined wars of intelligence, proxy, public relations, civil, covert, and military dimensions are being waged in Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq. The conquest of Damascus is a prerequisite to winning these fronts and would greatly strengthen the American-led position in a possible showdown against Iran and its allies. Although, it should be mentioned that after the strategic 2006 defeat of Israel in Lebanon, it seems that preparations are now being made for a simultaneous war against both Syria and Iran.

Allegations of Syrian Weapons of Mass Destruction

Both Syria and its ally Iran, since the invasion of Iraq, face the real threat of American-led and Israeli aggression. The threat of war looms high over both Middle Eastern republics and a dossier of pretexts for war has been steadily built against both nations.

It is no coincidence that in mid-2003, with the initiation of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, that Jack Straw, the British foreign minister at the time, visited both Tehran and Damascus to guarantee both Iran and Syria that there would be no Anglo-American wars launched against them. When asked about the possibility of future wars against Syria and Iran after the invasion of Iraq, Jack Straw responded: “it would worry me if it were true. It is not true, and we would have nothing whatever to do with an approach like that.” [4]

Jack Straw’s statements proved to be without foundation. Merely days after his statements in Tehran and Damascus the British, including Jack Straw and Tony Blair, and the U.S. governments began to threaten Damascus and accuse the Syrians of also trying to produce weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) just like Iraq. [5] The Syrian Ambassador to Britain, Mouafak Nassar, sharply questioned the motives of the Anglo-American accusations of Syrian weapons of mass destruction (WMDs): “I will say I am wondering why they are targeting one Arab country after the other. They are ignoring totally the country that has mass destruction weapons—Israel.” [6]

The weapons of mass destruction (WMD) allegations were toned down and eventually evaporated in the wake of the blowback from the U.S. and British allegations of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as a pretext for invading Iraq. The White House and 10 Downing Street would have to find other pretexts for initiating hostilities with Damascus. These pretexts would eventually emerge after the Valentines Day assassination of the late Rafik Hariri, former prime minister of Lebanon (February 14, 2005).

Syria almost immediately faced efforts to diplomatically isolate it, led by France and America. The initiative to hammer Syria had commenced. It was before February 2005 that the “Atlantic Rift” between France and Germany on the one hand and U.S and Britain on the other hand really started to close, leading to significantly better relations.

An understanding between the Franco-German entente and the Anglo-American alliance, the two branches of NATO, had been initiated. The result was an unfolding consensus which is now supported by pro-U.S. governments in both France and Germany. This in turn has bearing on the creation of respective spheres of responsibility and influence in the Middle East.

NATO Supreme Commander’s Hunting Words: After Afghanistan, Seven Additional Countries to be Conquered

The Syrians and the Iranians were well aware that what was unfolding on their immeidate borders was the resurrection of a multi-phased historic Anglo-American campaign drafted in London before the First World War. The Syrians, like others throughout the globe from Riyadh and Cairo to Moscow, Berlin, and Beijing, were fully aware of this Anglo-American vision for the Middle East and Central Asia— dreams that were now in the process of being implemented as reality and in due course shared with France and Germany.

In an interview, General Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe, frankly stated that the U.S. has been set on initiating a major military road map of international warfare that would start in Afghanistan and Iraq and end with Iran;
This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? (…) So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to Al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.”

(…)

So I came back to see him [a high ranking military officer in the Pentagon] a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defence’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” [7]
Starting from 1991 and the end of the Cold War, there have been continuous U.S. and NATO military build-ups in and around the Balkans, the Middle East, and Central Asia. There is a long-term strategy at play. in these regions. General Wesley Clark’s assertions help put into focus just one stage of this military build-up. NATO expansion around Russia and the militarization of China’s eastern flank constitute another stage of this military roadmap.

The nations that were mentioned by the former NATO commander in his interview are Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and finally Iran. The events in Yugoslavia and the Balkans are part of this military list or “long war.” The latter is characterised by the following stages:
.1. Iraq, like Afghanistan, has been invaded and is under occupation;

.2. Libya has submitted to the edicts of the White House and 10 Downing Street; Colonel Qaddafi, the leader of Libya, knew very well that Libya was a target and therefore surrendered peacefully so that Libya would not suffer the same fate as Iraq.

.3. Somalia is presently a theatre of operations and a war zone. Information has also been revealed about coveted Anglo-American oil interest in Somalia.

.4. Sudan is under threat with humanitarian pretexts being used against it just as they were used against Yugoslavia. Sudan also knows that it is a targeted nation and is pacing towards a military pact with Iran.

.5. The conventional military phase of the Lebanese theatre involved the Israeli attacks in 2006 and is over— for now. The current phase of the war in Lebanon is not being fought by conventional armies, but by client forces supported by the Anglo-American alliance and Franco-German entente.

.6. Syria is presently being beleaguered. Syria was driven out of Lebanon and targeted initially by attempts at international isolation by the U.S. and European Union. It seems that the war in Lebanon was a point in the military roadmap where plans did not go as exactly planned and the Israelis could not attack Syria, but almost certainly the military roadmap has optional settings and alternative routes or flexible allowances.

.7. It has been maintained that the war with Iran has already started on the low spectrum level. Preparations seem to be underway for military confrontation with Iran.
France and Germany, the Franco-German entente, are partners in this historic neo-colonial project: thus the project is no longer strictly Anglo-American, it is a NATO project. It is no coincidence that all these targeted nations, aside from Libya, fall within the operational-level military command boundaries of United States Central Command (CENTCOM). NATO expansion is also linked to the wars and the pending wars in this vast region.

Central Asia, the Caspian Basin, and the underbelly of Russia will be exposed as the next stage of this “long war,” once the Pentagon finishes with Iran and the Middle East. NATO can not project full power in these former Soviet areas until it has a secure opening which is what Iran, along with NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan, can provide as forward bases. The entry of NATO into Central Asia will effectively create a barrier between Russia, China, and India.

Syria is a U.S. and Israeli Military Target

Originally, Syria seems to have been willing to cooperate with both the Franco-German entente and the Anglo-American alliance, to a limited extent. But it now seems that similar to the case in Uzbekistan, relations have so to speak been spoiled. The Syrian-Iranian alliance is also the oldest partnership in the Middle East dating back to the pre-Revolutionary period in Iran, under the Pahlavi Dynasty.

It seems that Syria and NATO allies were at loggerheads because the resolve of the Syrians was underestimated and more importantly the Anglo-American alliance and Franco-German entente subsequently lost the trust of the Syrians because of attempts to destabilize Syria. This included covert attempts at inciting regime change in Damascus. Syrian troops quickly left Lebanon in 2005, not just because of the will of the majority of the Lebanese people, but because of the fear that the Syrian position in regards to Lebanon would quickly be portrayed like that of Iraq in regards to Kuwait in 1991. Syria left Lebanon because the Syrian government was aware that the Pentagon was looking for a justification to march U.S. troops and tanks into Damascus. [8]

Several pretexts were given by the White House, which frankly told the international media it was contemplating operations against the Syrians after the fall of Baghdad. These pretexts included Syrian support to Iraq and Syrian help to Palestinian and Lebanese groups opposed to Israel. The Observer (U.K.) also noted that the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq was the first stage of a military campaign to control the Middle East in April of 2003;
…the next phase of its ‘war on terror’ in a move which could threaten military action against President Bashar Assad’s regime in Damascus.

The move is part of Washington’s efforts to persuade Israel to support a new peace settlement with the Palestinians. Washington has promised Israel that it will take ‘all effective action’ to cut off Syria’s support for Hezbollah— implying a military strike if necessary, sources in the Bush administration have told The Observer.

(…)

The undertaking [to attack/invade Syria] dovetails conveniently into ‘phase three’ of what President George Bush calls the ‘war on terror’ and his pledge to go after all countries accused of harbouring terrorists.

It also fits into calls by hawks inside and aligned to the [Bush Jr.] administration who believe that [the] war in Iraq was [the] first stage in a wider war for American control of the region. Threats against Syria come daily out of Washington.[9]
It is also important to examine the terminology used by Bush Jr. Administration officials in regards to the portrayal of an attack/invasion of Syria. They have referred to a military campaign in the Levant as “phase three” of the “Global War on Terror.” It should be noted that “phase one” of the wider war was the invasion of Afghanistan (2001) in Central Asia, “phase two” the invasion of Iraq (2003) and “phase three” has become the Israeli war against Lebanon (2006).

Syria has become bolder due to the events of 2006 in Lebanon. Syrian officials knew very well that Syria was also part of the intended theatre of Israeli operations and were expecting military strikes. Public statements about a “New Crisis” in Lebanon and Syria that would be initiated by the United States were being made by Iranian, Lebanese, and Syrian leaders in 2003, right after the fall of Baghdad. [10]

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported in May of 2003 that Mohammed Khatami, the Iranian president at the time, while in Beirut warned that Lebanon and Syria were jointly in the sights of the military campaign the U.S. and Britain had launched in the Middle East;
Iran is not interested in escalating tensions in the Middle East and opposes anything that created instability in the region, President Mohammad Khatami has said.

On a landmark visit to Lebanon (…) But he said Syria, Iran and Lebanon would not simply bow to U.S. pressure, and warned America against creating “a new crisis” following its [invasion] of Iraq. [11]
At the start of the Israeli campaign against Lebanon, Iran warned Israel of “unimaginable damage” if it attacked Syria and Syrian diplomats stated that their country felt strengthened by Iran’s support and that Damascus “knows that the U.S. would want to prevent a wider conflict involving Iran [at the time].” [12]

This seems to have been true at the time in 2006 and during that past phase of the military roadmap in the Middle East, which was intended on simultaneously subjugating Syria and Lebanon. But it now seems, despite the diplomatic rhetoric, that the United States is preparing for potentially starting a war with both Iran and Syria. The military preparations that are underway speak louder than U.S. diplomacy and public statements.

At the time, in 2006, the U.S. and Israel were not logistically ready for a war with Iran, but they had been preparing for the long awaited and anticipated military project. Permanent Anglo-American super-bases have been constructed in Iraq as forward bases into Iran. Large naval armadas are marshaling in the waters of the Middle East, from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, in preparation for war and also to enforce a naval blockade against Syria, Lebanon, and Iran.

An interview with Meyrav Wurmser, the wife of David Wurmser, Advisor on Middle Eastern Affairs to U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney, reveals part of the intentions to attack Syria, one of the seven countries listed by General Clark as being a target of the Pentagon. Madame Wurmser unmistakably indicates that Syria was the main military target during the Israeli war on Lebanon;
But the anger [in U.S. ruling circles] is over the fact that Israel did not fight against the Syrians. Instead of Israel fighting against Hezbollah, many parts of the American administration believe that Israel should have fought against the real enemy [objective], which is Syria and not Hezbollah [in Lebanon].”

(…)

The neocons are responsible for the fact that Israel got a lot of time and space…[e.g. the obstruction of U.N. resolutions for a ceasefire and emergency deliveries of jet fuel from the U.S. to Israel] They believed that Israel should be allowed to win. A great part of it was the thought that Israel should fight against the real enemy, the one backing Hezbollah. It was obvious that it is impossible to fight directly against Iran, but the thought was that [Iran’s] strategic and important ally [Syria] should be hit.

“It is difficult for Iran to export its (…) revolution [meaning influence] without joining Syria, which is the last nationalistic [meaning independent] Arab country. If Israel had hit Syria, it would have been such a harsh blow for Iran, that it would have weakened it and changes the strategic map in the Middle East. [13]
An article titled Israel Should Hit Syria First that was released by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which represents the innermost thoughts and perspectives of the American foreign policy circle from the White House to the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Congress, also advocates that Israel should have attacked Syria. [14] The article by Maximilian Boot, a senior U.S. national security fellow for the CRG and an advocate of the use of military force to impose American dominance on a global scale, originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Israel is also making louder and continuous noises about an imminent Syrian attack; this is in anticipation of a war against the Syrians. The Syrians are naturally aware of the plans to attack their country and have started their defensive preparations, which the mainstream Israeli media originally portrayed as an initiative to attack Israel, but later redefined as defensive preparations for fuzzy unclear reasons.

Leaving the Door open for Syria: Formulating the surrender of Tehran’s ally

"If Syria does engage more broadly with the West, that leaves Iran almost entirely isolated in the Middle East...”

-Jon Alterman, Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington D.C.)

It is also no mere coincidence that Jalal Talabani of Iraq and Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine, two vassals of the Anglo-American alliance, visited Damascus in the same week. [15] The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, came under the pretext of negotiating with the leaders-in-exile of Hamas in Damascus to reach a political settlement between Fatah and Hamas. Jalal Talabani’s trip to Syria was also a sham. Both men undoubtedly came representing the White House in negotiations with Syria to get Damascus to capitulate just as Libya did in 2003 after the fall of Baghdad.

The Anglo-American war machine has lost some momentum and the international foxtrot has become more complicated; it seems that a door is being opened to Syria for a Libya-like surrender to avoid or skip one phase of the “long war.” Javier Solana, the E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana, traveled to Syria in what was being termed as a “groundbreaking” visit to Damascus. France, until the visit by Javier Solana, had blocked almost all contact between the E.U. and Syria. [16] Germany has also been sending continuous signals to Syria along with other E.U. countries. Chancellor Merkel while in Lebanon, visiting to show support for the Lebanese government and to see German sailors posted in the Eastern Mediterranean, demanded that the Syrians cooperate with the stipulations of the E.U., the U.S., and Israel. [17]

In March of 2007, officials of the Bush Jr. Administration also visited Damascus after a period of diplomatic boycotts intended to isolate Syria. These visits took place in Syria under the justification that talks between the Syrian government and the Bush Jr. Administration were focused solely on the millions of Iraqi refugees that were trying to escape the chaos and violence in Iraq. It was after the initial visits from Bush Jr. Administration officials that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also visited Syria in a highly publicized visit. The White House declared that it opposed the House Speaker’s visit to Damascus even though Ellen Sauerbrey, an assistant secretary at the U.S. State Department and a representative of the White House, was in Syria for negotiations. [18]

All rhetoric put aside, outside of public posturing, the implementation of U.S. foreign policy has historically been one of the subjects that the two main political parties in the United States, the Democrats and the Republicans, are virtually indistinguishable in their actions. There exists no liberalism or conservative dogma or partisanship in U.S. foreign policy. The bills approved after the November 2006 U.S. Congressional elections by the U.S. Congress, which is controlled by the Democrats, are merely a continuation of the Bush Jr. Administration’s agenda. The U.S. Congress has approved and passed bills for the funding of the continued occupation of Iraq, given the White House additional powers, and paved the way for future wars in the Middle East.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi visited Syria with a delegation that included Democrats and a Republican. [19] The visits to Damascus from the U.S. State Department and the House Speaker essentially were part of a combined effort and served the exact same interests, which was to get the Syrians to capitulate. Congresswoman Pelosi went to Damascus as a representative of the larger ruling establishment in the U.S., to which the White House is a member, and her discussions are what opened the door for the hollow talks in Egypt between Condoleezza Rice and the Syrian Foreign Minister in early-May, 2007.

Washington D.C. seeks Regime Change in Damascus

Abdel-Halim Khaddam, the former vice-president of Syria, now in exile because of apparent corruption charges is being supported by the White House as an opposition figure against Damascus. He is also being alluded to as a democratic alternative for Syria, just as the corrupt Ahmed Chalabi has been for Iraq by the White House. Abdel-Halim Khaddam is also establishing an office in Washington D.C., which in itself is a negative omission for an exiled Arab opposition figure. [20]

It is no mere coincidence that fighting has broken out in Lebanon between Fatah Al-Islam, a previously unheard of radical militant group, and the Lebanese Armed Forces, days after David Welch, the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. State Department, held unprecedented meetings with General Michel Sulaiman (Solomon) the Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces. Although Saudi Arabian, Jordanian, and American channels created Fatah Al-Islam, Syria is conveniently being blamed as the perpetrator in a calculated move to strengthen the manufactured war dossier against Damascus.

NOTES

[1] Julian Borger et al., Bush vetoes Syria War, The Guardian (U.K.), April 15, 2003

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0, ... 05,00.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] Sharon threatens to hit Israel’s enemies anywhere, China Daily, October 8, 2003.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/en/doc/200 ... 269840.htm

[4] Straw: UK will not attack Syria or Iran, The Guardian (U.K.), April 2, 2003

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/sto ... 10,00.html

[5] Julian Borger et al., Bush vetoes Syria War, Op. cit.

[6] Ibid.

[7] General (ret.) Wesley Clark, 92 Street Y Exclusive Live Interview, interview by Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, March 2, 2007.

[8] Ed Vulliamy, Syria could be next, warns Washington, The Observer (U.K.), April 13, 2003.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/internat ... 43,00.html

[9] Ibid.

[10] Iran warns US against ‘New Crises,’ British Broadcasting Service (BBC), May 13, 2003.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3024959.stm

[11] Ibid.

[12] Iran’s foreign minister in Syria, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), July 17, 2006.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5186546.stm

[13] Yitzhak Benhorin, Neocons: We expected Israel to attack Syria, Yedioth Aharonot, December 16, 2006.

[14] Maximilian Boot, Israel Should Hit Syria First, Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2006.

http://www.cfr.org/publication/11344/is ... first.html

[15] Iraq’s Talabani arrives in Syria, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), January 14, 2007.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6260067.stm

Atul Aneja, Abbas in Syria for talks, The Hindu, January 21, 2007.

http://www.hindu.com/2007/01/21/stories ... 171300.htm

[16] EU plans to re-engage with Syria, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), March 9, 2007.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6434227.stm

[17] Nadim Ladki, Merkel urges Syria to cooperate on Lebanon, Reuters, April 2, 2007.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L02332343.htm

[18] Stephen Kaufman, Syria, United States Exchange Views on Iraqi Refugees: Talks in Damascus described as "useful" and "straightforward," U.S. State Department, March 12, 2007.

[19] Hassan M. Fattah, Pelosi’s Delegation Presses Syrian Leader on Militants, The New York Times, April 5, 2007, p.A3.

The delegation form the U.S. House of Representatives was comprised of;

Nancy House (Democrat)-California; Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives;

Tom Lantos (Democrat)-California; Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affair;

David L. Hobson (Republican)-Ohio;

Henry A. Waxman (Democrat)-California,;

Louise M. Slaughter (Democrat)- New York;

Nick J. Rahall II (Democrat)-West Virginia;

Keith Ellison (Democrat)-Minnesota.

[20] Claude Salhani, Interview: Khaddam Cautions on Damascus, United Press International (UPI), April 24, 2007.

The interview is extremely revealing. The former Syrian official has all the characteristics of a “Chalabi-like” turncoat. He criticizes Syrian political institutions, but refuses to say anything critical about the rest of the Arab World. The former Syrian official was also one of the Syrian government top proponents and a vocal opponent of the U.S. government.


Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and the author of several articles on US war plans in the Middle East and Central Asia.
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Bridget
Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

27 Oct 2008, 14:34 #4

Page last updated at 14:12 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

Syria condemns 'US village raid'

The scene of the raid

Syria has protested angrily to both the US and Iraq after what it said was a US helicopter raid inside its territory that killed eight civilians.

Syria summoned US and Iraqi envoys to condemn the "aggressive act". Iraq said the area targeted was used by militants to launch cross-border attacks in Iraq.

The US has neither confirmed nor denied the incident. It has previously accused Syria of allowing militants into Iraq.

Syria said the US helicopters attacked a farm in the Abu Kamal border area.

If confirmed, the raid would be the first known attack by US forces inside Syrian territory, says BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus.

'Outrageous crime'

A Syrian government statement said: "Syria condemns this aggression and holds the American forces responsible for this aggression and all its repercussions."

It called for an immediate investigation.

The attack drew strong criticism from Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, who told reporters the incident "should not pass by without clear condemnation."


They started firing at us. My little boy ran out and as I went to protect him they shot me
Wife of a security guard

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Baghdad was "in contact with the American side about reports regarding the attack along the frontier with Syria".

But he added that the attacked area "is a theatre of insurgent activities against Iraq using Syria as a launch pad".

Neither the Pentagon nor the White House has made any official comment. A US military spokeswoman in Baghdad said it was "in the process of investigating".

Syria's press attache in London, Jihad Makdissi, told the BBC the incident was "an outrageous crime and an act of aggression".

"If [the US has] any proof of any insurgency, instead of applying the law of the jungle and penetrating, unprovoked, a sovereign country, they should come to the Syrians first and share this information," he said.

Mr Makdissi said the US government had "proved to be irrational and they have no respect for international law or human rights".

He warned that Syria would "respond accordingly in the proper way".


The government newspaper Tishrin called the act a "war crime".



Although there has been no official US response, an unnamed US military official told the Associated Press news agency that special forces had targeted al-Qaeda linked militants moving across the border.

"We are taking matters into our own hands," the US official said.

The official said there had been considerable success closing lines of entry for foreign militants but added: "The one piece of the puzzle we have not been showing success on is the nexus in Syria."

Several days ago the commander of US forces in western Iraq said they would be increasing operations to secure the border as it had become an "uncontrolled" entry point for militants.

US intelligence believes up to 90% of the foreign fighters entering Iraq come through Syria.

Blood-stained floor

Syria's official Sana news agency said that "four American helicopters violated Syrian airspace around 1645 local time [1345 GMT] on Sunday".

The government said the helicopters attacked the Sukkariyeh farm near Abu Kamal, eight kilometres (five miles) from the Iraqi border.

A building under construction was hit and four children and a married couple were among the dead, it said.

Reports of the raid vary but some said at least two helicopters landed and troops disembarked to fire on the building.

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    The Americans always do this sort of thing, it shows us how little our lives mean to them

Ahmad, UK
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"We were at the building site when four [soldiers] came down. Four [soldiers] headed towards us and another four went towards the workers who were putting in the foundation concrete," a woman identified as the wife of a security guard told Syrian television.

"They started firing at us. My little boy ran out and as I went to protect him they shot me. There were four aircraft - two of them landed while the other two remained airborne. The aircraft also kept on firing at us. They killed the workers. When I went to catch my son they shot me. He was running towards his father."

TV pictures showed a truck riddled with bullet holes and a blood-stained floor.

Our correspondent says the timing of the incident is curious, coming right at the end of the Bush administration's period of office and at a moment when many of America's European allies - like Britain and France - are trying to broaden their ties with Damascus.
Is this attack on Syria a prelude to the 'generated crisis' that Biden referred to?
"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. "And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right.
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti
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The Antagonist
Joined: 25 Nov 2005, 11:41

27 Oct 2008, 14:57 #5

US special forces launch rare attack inside Syria, 7th Ld-Writethru, ML

    * AP foreign, Monday October 27 2008
By ALBERT AJI

Associated Press Writer= DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - U.S. military helicopters launched an extremely rare attack Sunday on Syrian territory close to the border with Iraq, killing eight people in a strike the government in Damascus condemned as "serious aggression."

A U.S. military official said the raid by special forces targeted the network of al-Qaida-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria into Iraq. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area struck because Syria was out of the military's reach.

"We are taking matters into our own hands," the official told The Associated Press in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids.

The attack came just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an "uncontrolled" gateway for fighters entering Iraq.

A Syrian government statement said the helicopters attacked the Sukkariyeh Farm near the town of Abu Kamal, eight kilometers (five miles) inside the Syrian border. Four helicopters attacked a civilian building under construction shortly before sundown and fired on workers inside, the statement said.

The government said civilians were among the dead, including four children.


A resident of the nearby village of Hwijeh said some of the helicopters landed and troops exited the aircraft and fired on a building. He said the aircraft flew along the Euphrates River into the area of farms and several brick factories. The witness spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Another witness said four helicopters were used in the attack.

Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, there have been some instances in which American troops crossed areas of the 600-kilometer (370-mile) Syria-Iraq border in pursuit of militants, or warplanes violated Syria's airspace. But Sunday's raid was the first conducted by aircraft and on such a large scale. In May 2005, Syria said American fire killed a border guard.

Syria's Foreign Ministry said it summoned the U.S. and Iraqi charges d'affaires to protest against the strike.

"Syria condemns this aggression and holds the American forces responsible for this aggression and all its repercussions. Syria also calls on the Iraqi government to shoulder its responsibilities and launch and immediate investigation into this serious violation and prevent the use of Iraqi territory for aggression against Syria," the government statement said.

Syrian state television late Sunday aired footage that showed blood stains on the floor of a site under construction, with wooden beams used to mold concrete strewn on the ground. Akram Hameed, one of the injured, told the television he was fishing in the Euphrates and saw four helicopters coming from the border area under a heavy blanket of fire.

"One of the helicopters landed in an agricultural area and eight members disembarked," the man in his 40s said. "The firing lasted about 15 minutes and when I tried to leave the area on my motorcycle, I was hit by a bullet in the right arm about 20 meters (yards) away," he said.

The injured wife of the building's guard, in bed in hospital with a tube in her nose, told Syria TV that two helicopters landed and two remained in the air during the attack.

"I ran to bring my child who was going to his father and I was hit," she said. The TV did not identify her by name.

The area targeted is near the Iraqi border city of Qaim, which had been a major crossing point for fighters, weapons and money coming into Iraq to fuel the Sunni insurgency.

Iraqi travelers making their way home across the border reported hearing many explosions, said Qaim Mayor Farhan al-Mahalawi.

The foreign fighters network sends militants from North Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East to Syria, where elements of the Syrian military are in league with al-Qaida and loyalists of Saddam Hussein's Baath party, the U.S. military official said.

He said that while American forces have had considerable success, with Iraqi help, in shutting down the "rat lines" in Iraq, and with foreign government help in North Africa, the Syrian node has been out of reach.

"The one piece of the puzzle we have not been showing success on is the nexus in Syria," the official said.

On Thursday, U.S. Maj. Gen. John Kelly said Iraq's western borders with Saudi Arabia and Jordan were fairly tight as a result of good policing by security forces in those countries but that Syria was a "different story."

"The Syrian side is, I guess, uncontrolled by their side," Kelly said. "We still have a certain level of foreign fighter movement."

He added that the U.S. was helping construct a sand berm and ditches along the border.

"There hasn't been much, in the way of a physical barrier, along that border for years," Kelly said.

The White House in August approved similar special forces raids from Afghanistan across the border of Pakistan to target al-Qaida and Taliban operatives. At least one has been carried out.

The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq has been cut to an estimated 20 a month, a senior U.S. military intelligence official told the Associated Press in July. That's a 50 percent decline from six months ago, and just a fifth of the estimated 100 foreign fighters who were infiltrating Iraq a year ago, according to the official.

Ninety percent of the foreign fighters enter through Syria, according to U.S. intelligence. Foreigners are some of the most deadly fighters in Iraq, trained in bomb-making and with small-arms expertise and more likely to be willing suicide bombers than Iraqis.

Foreign fighters toting cash have been al-Qaida in Iraq's chief source of income. They contributed more than 70 percent of operating budgets in one sector in Iraq, according to documents captured in September 2007 on the Syrian border. Most of the fighters were conveyed through professional smuggling networks, according to the report.

Iraqi insurgents seized Qaim in April 2005, forcing U.S. Marines to recapture the town the following month in heavy fighting. The area became secure only after Sunni tribes in Anbar turned against al-Qaida in late 2006 and joined forces with the Americans.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem accused the United States earlier this year of not giving his country the equipment needed to prevent foreign fighters from crossing into Iraq. He said Washington feared Syria could use such equipment against Israel.

Though Syria has long been viewed by the U.S. as a destabilizing country in the Middle East, in recent months, Damascus has been trying to change its image and end years of global seclusion.

Its president, Bashar Assad, has pursued indirect peace talks with Israel, mediated by Turkey, and says he wants direct talks next year. Syria also has agreed to establish diplomatic ties with Lebanon, a country it used to dominate both politically and militarily, and has worked harder at stemming the flow of militants into Iraq.

The U.S. military in Baghdad did not immediately respond to a request for comment after Sunday's raid.

-----

Associated Press reporter Pamela Hess in Washington and Sam F. Ghattas in Beirut contributed to this report.
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown
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amirrortotheenemy
Joined: 06 Nov 2006, 17:39

27 Oct 2008, 22:40 #6

Both the euronews and al-jazeera reports carry videos at their links
Syria US forces make rare raid into Syria 27/10 17:26 CET

The people of the Syrian border town of Al Bukamal have been burying their dead. Syria says eight civilians were killed after US helicopters and ground troops attacked from across the Iraqi frontier.

The Iraqi government and the White House say they conducted a successful operation against Iraqi insurgents who were using Syria as a safe haven. Syria’s foreign minister is furious.

“We consider this criminal and terrorist agression, and we put the responsibilty on the American government and they need to investigate and return back to us with the result,” Walid Mouallem said in London.

The attack site is close to the city of Qaim, which has been a major crossing point for fighters, weapons and money coming into Iraq to sustain the Sunni insurgency.

The Syrians say they may protest to the UN Security Council about the attack, and will seek compensation from America for the victim’s families. The Americans claim 90 percent of foreign fighters entering Iraq come through Syria.

EuroNews
    Joshua and all,

    I just spoke on the phone with a doctor in ABou Kamal- He confirmed that the attack happened around sunset. The 4 helicopters came from the East of the township, he saw them coming. The soldiers debarked and shot people who were working in a building under construction on the periphery of the township.

    9 people were pronounced dead on arrival to the hospital- Two more are severely wounded and are being operated on right now [he does not expect them to survive]- He has not read the papers (there are none to read at this time of the night) nor listened to the news and there is no internet there….His report was completely spontaneous-

    I was not able to get the details on the ages of the injured but he described them as poor simple people (Masakeen)from the town. If the matter were otherwise, he would have let me know.

Joshua Landis - Syria Comment (more on the raid at this link)
Syria says raid is 'terrorist' act

The Syrian foreign minister has described a deadly raid on a village near the border with Iraq, allegedly carried out by the US, as a planned act of "terrorist aggression".

Speaking in London on Monday, Walid Muallem also raised questions about how a pact between the US and Iraq over troop deployment next year could impact on neighbouring countries.

Muallem said the eight people killed in Sunday's helicopter attack in the border village of Sukariya were civilians.

"All of them were unarmed and they are on the Syrian territories," he said. "This killing of civilians in international law means a terrorist aggression.

"The Americans do it in the daylight, this means it is not a mistake it is by determination, by planned determination."

'Al-Qaeda lieutenant killed'

The US has not officially responded to Syria's accusations, but an unnamed US official said on Monday that Abu Ghadiya, a former lieutenant to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the late leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, had been killed in the raid.

"It was a successful operation ... He [Abu Ghadiya] is believed to be dead," the official said.

( In Video: Alleged US raid on Syrian soil )

"He had knowledge of many of the so-called 'rat lines' or smuggling routes [into Iraq] ... This undoubtedly will have a debilitating effect on this foreign fighter smuggling network."

Muallem also said that Syria would be holding the US responsible and that the government needed to investigate and report back to them with an explanation as to why the raid had been carried out.

"Also, the question arises here: Is this the production of the agreement between the administration and Iraq, the defensive agreement, where many Iraqis are saying that the sovereignty of Iraq is at stake and the American will use the Iraqi's territories to launch aggression against neighbouring countries? These are question marks," he said.

'Terrorist groups'

The families of those killed in the raid on Sukariya, which lies close to the town of Abu Kamal, buried their loved ones on Monday.

Syrian state television said four US military helicopters had been involved in Sunday's raid on the village.
"Four American helicopters violated Syrian airspace around 4:45pm local time [13:45 GMT] on Sunday," state television reported.

Two of the helicopters landed and dropped off eight US soldiers, who then entered a house, Syrian media reported.

"American soldiers ... attacked a civilian building under construction and fired at workmen inside, causing eight deaths," state television said.

The government said that those killed were workers.

Akram Hameed, a man in his 40s who said he was injured in the attack while fishing in the Euphrates river, told Syrian television he saw four helicopters coming from the border area under a heavy blanket of fire.

"One of the helicopters landed in an agricultural area and eight members disembarked," Hameed said.

"The firing lasted about 15 minutes and when I tried to leave the area on my motorcycle, I was hit by a bullet in the right arm about 20 metres away."

Syrian television showed what it said was the injured wife of the building's guard, in bed in hospital with a tube in her nose, saying that two helicopters landed and two remained in the air during the attack.

Iraq allegations

The raid targeted an area used by fighters responsible for cross-border attacks into Iraq, Ali al-Dabbagh, the Iraqi government spokesman, said on Monday.

"The attacked area was the scene of activities of terrorist groups operating from Syria against Iraq," he told the Reuters news agency.

"The latest of these groups ... killed 13 police recruits in an [Iraqi] border village. Iraq had asked Syria to hand over this group which uses Syria as a base for its terrorist activities."

Al-Dabbagh would not say who had carried out the attack.

"Iraq is always seeking distinguished relations with its sister Syria," he said.

"The presence of some anti-Iraq groups in Syria, which are supporting and participating in activities against Iraqis, would hinder improvement of these relations".

The US and the US-backed Iraqi government have on several occasions accused Damascus of not doing enough to stop anti-US fighters, including those from al-Qaeda, crossing the border into Iraq.

Syrian anger

After news of Sunday's attack emerged, the Syrian government summoned the senior US and Iraqi envoys to Damascus to protest against the raid, the Syrian Arab news agency (Sana) reported.

A Syrian government statement said: "Syria condemns this aggression and holds the American forces responsible for this aggression and all its repercussions."

The statement also called for the Iraqi government to launch an investigation into the attack.

Reem Haddad, the Syrian information ministry spokesperson, sais that the raid breached a recent accord between Iraq and the US.

"This is a flagrant violation of the new [security] agreement between Iraq and the US," she told Al Jazeera.

"One of the points of that agreement is that they do not attack bordering countries."

Hoda Abdel Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, said the alleged US raid seemed to be in contradiction to comments by US officials that Syria had improved its border security.

"What is quite puzzling for many people here is that the Americans had actually praised the role of Syria over the last year," she said.

"Earlier this year, I had conversations with General David Petraeus [then commander of US forces in Iraq] and Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Iraq; they both said that Damascus had made [security] efforts at its main airport and along the Syria-Iraq border, and that the flow of fighters coming into Iraq had diminished considerably over the previous year.

"They both said the number of people infiltrating Iraq from Syria had dropped by 50 per cent [in the last year]. Actually, Petraeus told me that it was impossible for any country to fully control its borders, specifically when it is in a porous desert area." 

Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Hughes, a spokesman for US forces in western Iraq, said that the US division that operates on the Iraqi side of the border was not involved in Sunday's incident.

The area targeted lies close to the Iraqi border city of Qaim, which in the past has been a crossing point for fighters, weapons and money used to fuel the armed Sunni opposition against Iraq's government.

Al Jazeera
"No one understood better than Stalin that the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought immediately reveals itself as a jarring dissonance." Leonard Schapiro
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Bridget
Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

31 Oct 2008, 01:19 #7

Demonstrations prompt closure of U.S. Embassy in Syria
 
    * Officials say action due to "increased security concerns" amid anti-U.S. protests
    * Iraq says it will share results of inquiry into deadly airstrike with Syria
    * Syria says 8 civilians killed in Sunday strike, which it considers "act of aggression"
    * Washington hasn't confirmed airstrike; source says it targeted al Qaeda fighter

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. Embassy in Damascus announced that it will be closed Thursday because of "increased security concerns" arising three days after a U.S. strike in Syria.


Iraqi refugees took to the streets in Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday to protest Sunday's airstrike.

Officials said the action was taken because of concerns over anti-U.S. demonstrations scheduled for Thursday over Sunday's airstrike, which Syria claims left eight people dead near the Iraq-Syria border.

Demonstrations were reportedly staged Wednesday throughout Syria to protest the incident, which has raised tensions among Iraq, Syria and the United States.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Abu Kamal, Syria, near the Iraqi border, burning American flags and shouting angrily, the country's official news agency SANA reported.

The Syrian government summoned the top U.S. official in the country, Maura Connelly, on Wednesday to request that an American cultural center be shut immediately. The government also requested a closure date of November 6 for the American-run Damascus Community School, deputy U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.

The Syrians did not specify how long the closures would last, Wood said.

Connelly told Syrian officials that the United States "expects them to provide adequate security to the buildings" during the closures, Wood said.

Senior State Department officials said the U.S. was pushing back on the request to close the school, as were other international diplomats and Syrian families whose children attend classes there.

Earlier this week, the Syrians gave Connelly a "demarche," or formal protest, about Sunday's incident, Wood said.

Syria has filed a complaint with the United Nations over the incident, which it has deemed an "act of aggression."

Syria says four U.S. helicopters based in Iraq launched the deadly airstrike on a farm under construction about five miles (8 kilometers) from the Iraq-Syria border, according to SANA.

Washington has not confirmed the strike. But a U.S. official who did not want to be identified said U.S. gunships fired near the Syria-Iraq border and successfully targeted Abu Ghadiya, an Iraqi suspected of working with al Qaeda to smuggle money, weapons and foreign fighters into Iraq.

Abu Ghadiya was "the top facilitator of al Qaeda foreign fighters into Iraq," according to a top U.S. military official in Iraq who did not want to be named for security reasons.

News of the embassy closure came as the Iraqi government announced Wednesday that it has opened an investigation into the airstrike.

Iraqi authorities said they plan to share their findings with Syria.

"All information and data [will be] submitted to the brotherly Syrian side upon the completion of investigations," the statement said, quoting an authoritative source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In its letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the current head of the U.N. Security Council, Syria maintained that the U.S. helicopters "violated Syrian airspace" and struck a civilian building before returning to Iraq, SANA reported.

Farhan Haq, a spokesman for Ban's office, confirmed that the secretary-general had received the complaint and said it will be studied and circulated among Security Council members.

Syria identified the eight killed as Daoud Mohammad al-Abdullah and his four sons; Ahmad Khalefa; and Ali Abbas and his wife, according to SANA.

Another unnamed U.S. official in Washington disputed that women or children were killed.

The official said the operation, carried out by U.S. Special Operations ground forces, was designed to minimize the risk of unintended civilian casualties. He said that other members of Abu Ghadiya's network were killed in the raid and that no one was captured alive.

Ali al-Dabbagh, the spokesman for the government in Baghdad, initially responded to the attack Monday.

"We want good relations, but we must remember that 13 Iraqi policemen ... were killed in an Iraqi bordering village near that region by a terrorist group that was operating from the Syrian territories," he said.

The Syrian government denounced that statement, state-run media reported. Al-Dabbagh issued a statement Tuesday saying the government in Baghdad condemned the attack and called on U.S. forces "not to repeat such acts."

Iraq's parliament issued a statement Tuesday expressing "great regret" over the strike, which it said threatens to "mar" Iraq's relationship with Syria.
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti
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