Sunday, October 26, 2008

U.S. Spec Ops Raid in Syria

USA Today reports:
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 foreign fighter network that travels through Syria into Iraq...

...A Syrian government statement said the helicopters attacked the Sukkariyeh Farm near the town of Abu Kamal, five miles inside the Syrian border...

...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 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.

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."...

...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-Qaeda and loyalists of Saddam Hussein's Baath party, the U.S. military official said...

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

...Ninety percent of the foreign fighters enter through Syria, according to U.S. intelligence....

...Foreign fighters toting cash have been al-Qaeda in Iraq's chief source of income. They contributed more than 70% 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.

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