Nothing to do with the bombings in London, of course . . .  .

Syria seen stepping up aid to Iraq-bound insurgents
By Rowan Scarborough
July 6, 2005

Syrians are increasing assistance to foreign fighters preparing to enter
Iraq and kill civilians and U.S. troops, despite months of pressure on
Damascus from Washington to crack down on the jihadists.
    A U.S. official said recent intelligence shows that Syria is the home to
Web sites that exhort militants to come to the country for preparation to
fight and die in Iraq.
    Syrians also are providing barracks-like housing as the recruits from
Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Morocco and other Muslim countries prepare for a jihad,
or holy war. The fighters also receive weapons, training and money in Syria.
    The Syrian government denies that it is helping the terrorists. American
commanders in Iraq have refrained from publicly saying the Ba'athist regime
of Syrian President Bashar Assad is actively assisting the insurgency.
    The Web sites and housing are why U.S. commanders, in hearings last
month, referred to Syria's capital of Damascus as the "hub" for foreigners
entering Iraq and carrying out daily suicide car bombings.
    Previously, officials have said that terrorists receive phony
identification cards and passports in Syria and that they use the papers to
cross Iraq's porous border. But fresh intelligence reports show that the
staging in Syria is becoming more elaborate, the official said.
    U.S. officials say privately that they think it is impossible for
hundreds of jihadists to move in and out of Syria on a weekly basis without
the government's approval.
    Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the region, testified on
Capitol Hill last month that the flow of foreign terrorists from Syria is
increasing, despite Washington's sending high-powered delegations to
Damascus to warn of serious consequences and its imposing economic
    Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to Washington, has denied
repeatedly that his Ba'athist government aids Iraq-bound terrorists. When
U.S. officials made similar charges a month ago, Mr. Moustapha told CNN that
Syria was ending anti-terrorism cooperation with Washington.
    He added, "We are trying to tell the United States: 'We are willing to
engage with you constructively. We want a good relationship with you, but
you have to stop this unfair media campaign against Syria, because we think
it is unfair and it is unconstructive.'?"
    Over the weekend, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported that government
troops clashed with militants near Damascus and captured Jordanian Sharif
Aye Saeed al Smady. The Associated Press reported that al Smady had escaped
from a Jordanian courthouse, where he had been on trial on murder charges.
    The announcements seemed timed to counter Washington's criticisms that
Syria is not doing enough to stop the Syria-to-Iraq terror route.
    The Syrian border influx creates an acute problem for the coalition.
Troops conduct sweeps in the area and kill scores of foreigners, only to see
them replaced by new jihadists coming across the border.
    Administration officials have concluded in recent months that the
long-term answer to defeating the foreign invasion is to bring more Iraqi
Sunni leaders into the Shi'ite-dominated government. Once the Sunnis view
the new Iraq as their Iraq as well, they will cease to support the
foreigners who move among safe houses in their communities, a second U.S.
official told The Washington Times in an interview.
    At a press briefing last week, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was
asked whether it was time to take the fight across the border into Syria.
Mr. Rumsfeld said such decisions are made at the White House.
    He also said it is up to the new Iraq government to pressure Damascus.
    "It seems to me it's up to Syria's neighbors, including Iraq, to
interact with Syria in a way that helps them understand the damage they're
doing to the region," he said.

Reply via email to