Syrian Frontier Becomes Frontline in Iraqi Conflict

(Beirut Daily Star) - Normally a neglected backwater, Syria's frontier region has found itself a simmering frontline in Iraq's bloody conflict and subject to unusual international scrutiny. Last week, Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan said that "terrorism in Iraq is orchestrated by Iranian intelligence, Syrian intelligence, and Saddam loyalists." Iraqi border posts are routinely attacked by insurgents. Many of the positions have been abandoned by their Iraqi defenders and burned down. Normally jammed with long lines of goods, taxis, and cars, the desolate Abu Qamal border crossing beside Hari was closed six weeks ago. Colonel Ali Shammar, the Syrian customs officer in charge of the border crossing, pointed at the sprawling American base marked by watch towers and protected by a wall of earth-filled caissons. A huge American flag ripples gently in the steady breeze. The American base regularly comes under mortar and rocket fire from Iraqi rebels. U.S. soldiers often respond by sweeping the area with machine gun fire, including the Syrian side of the border.

2004-12-21 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive