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SYRIA: Attack's aftershocks continue


American forces in Iraq launched a daring commando raid into Syrian territory on Sunday in order to strike against a suspected insurgent leader.

But in the end, the operation may wind up being more trouble than it was worth as repercussions continue to reverberate in the Middle East and throughout the world, with even Europeans condemning the attack.

Syria's cabinet today  condemned the assault on the village of Sukkairah as "brutal, vicious American aggression."

Syria's official news agency reported that the authorities have decided to shut down an unidentified Damascus-based "American school" and a cultural center. The report didn't identify the exact name of the school.

But the U.S. Department of State has since 1950 overseen the Damascus Community School, which serves the children of American diplomats and others posted to Syria. The embassy in Damascus also operates a culture center which showcases American arts, including jazz.

The closures may not sound like a big deal, but they're a huge blow to hardworking American diplomats who've struggled to spruce up America's image in Syria over the last couple years. The move also stifles any hope of a quick rapprochement between Syria and U.S.

The military operation -- during the final months of the Bush administration -- confused many in the foreign policy community who thought that the U.S. and Syria were moving toward accommodation.

Syrian authorities have also decided to postpone a meeting of a joint Syrian-Iraqi committee meant to meet Nov. 12 in Baghdad improve troubled relations between the two countries.

That's a pretty big blow to Iraq, which has not had normal relations with its neighbor for decades. The Baghdad government has been eager to patch up relations with Damascus by trying to soothe fears that the U.S. troops stationed in Iraq won't be used against Syria.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh on Monday appeared to justify the U.S. move as an attack on an insurgent stronghold across the Iraqi border.

Syria responded by blasting Dabbagh for his "unacceptable and irresponsible justification" of the attack, which targeted a leader of an insurgent ring smuggling arms and fighters into Iraq.

For his part, Dabbagh -- who's often putting his foot in his mouth -- struggled to disassociate himself from his own remarks. He issued a statement saying:

"The Iraqi government rejects the strike by the U.S. planes on Syrian territories as part of the policy of the Iraqi government and its constitution which does not allow the Iraqi land as a base to conduct such attacks on neighboring countries."

His statement said the Iraqi government has launched an investigation into the incident and called upon American forces "not to repeat such acts."

Iraq's parliament also chimed in, demanding its government disclose the results of any probe into the details of the American strike. Iraq, the statement said, "will not be used to attack any state."

Iran and other Muslim countries have condemned the attack. But the impact of the incident extends even further than the Middle East. Europeans fear it will scuttle their efforts to draw Syria away from Iran and toward the West.

Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy maestro, traveled recently to Damascus to try to smooth  frayed relations with Syria.

"I am concerned at the air raid that took place inside Syria earlier today, which resulted with the death of civilians,” he said in a statement issued Monday evening. “I have just returned from Syria where I discussed prospects for improved stability and security in the region with the authorities. I hope the situation can rapidly return to normality."

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut and the Baghdad bureau

Photo: The mother, left, and two sisters of Syrian Faysal el-Abdallah, who died when U.S. military helicopters launched an attack on Syrian territory, during a funeral procession at Sukkariyeh near the town of Abu Kamal. Credit: Hussein Malla / Associated Press

P.S. Get news from the Middle East in your mailbox every day. The Los Angeles Times distributes a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, as well as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for "L.A. Times updates" and then clicking on the "World: Mideast" box.

Comments () | Archives (11)

I'm disgusted with America. What goes around comes around. No hope for the USA.

I really don't know what a double stadard worl has became. If this act vice versa what would the world say...Be fair to all humans, we all want peace, I wonder who benefit from all this stupid war?

It seems the U.S. has no intention of ending hostilities in the Middle East. If we did, then we would have asked the Syrian government for permission to launch our raid, instead of engaging in the same preemptive military policies that have made our country appear as an imperialist superpower to the entire region.

U.S. and Israeli policies have stirred up resentment again and again in the Arab World. If we truly desired to stabilize the region, we would pursue diplomacy and frankness with Middle Eastern leaders.

That of course would mean a little give and take. We would have to listen to their concerns as well as advance our own interests. The only way our country gets everything we want in the Middle East is through force. I desire peace, however. With peace will also come a great reduction in terrorist attacks. To facilitate this peace our government will have to listen to Arab concerns. For example, Arab countries may not want to privatize their energy industries. Arab countries may be concerned about what they see as the repression of the Palestinian people. They have for some time been concerned with Israeli and American aggression in the region.

These may seem like small issues to some people, especially many Americans, but they are huge in certain Arab countries. They have spurred so much anti-American sentiment that terrorists even refer to us as 'the great Satan'.

WC's wonderful explanation for its being okay to kill anybody who looks like a Muslim doesn't make sense. It seems to be that every single Muslim -- and this must include those three kids and the nightwatchman's wife shot dead in Syria this week -- should die because "They hit us in Iran in '79, They hijacked a jet and killed an american sailor in 85, they hit the World Trade Center in '93 and finished the job in '01. They levelled our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. They hit us at Khyber Towers in 96, killing 19 U.S. service members. And now they are trafficking murderers, weapons and blood money through Syria."

This is simple bigotry, just like hating the Jews, the blacks, or the visitors who beat your home team in the weekend football team, and it doesn't help much in understanding the world, and deciding whom to kill in it.

Even less sense flows from WC's advice to "learn to speak Farsi, Modern Standard Arabic, or Pushtun. It will help when you are begging for your life when we capitulate to these monsters [who will then stick] an assault rifle in your face on on the E-train".

The person most likely to stick a firearm in your face in the E train, whatever that is, will of course continue to be an honest domestic drug-addicted robber, and those languages are so different that if, say, you speak modern standard Arabic to one of the foreigners WC imagines, you stand a good chance of achieving no communication whatsoever.

WC's desperate need to replace commonsense with black hatred shows up in his reference to "Wahibis", showing how little knowledge he really has of the world. He means Wahhabis. They're most unlikely to bear arms on your commuter train at any time in the future, at all. Relax about that -- and everything else in WC's offered guidance. On the other hand, if WC moves into your neighborhood, watch out. he might form the view that you're a Muslim. Even one of them Wahibis, dadblast it.

I'm sorry, but where have you people been for the last 28 or so years?

How many of you keyboard commandoes have ever been to the middle east?

They hit us in Iran in '79, They hijacked a jet and killed an american sailor in 85, they hit the World Trade Center in '93 and finished the job in '01. They levelled our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. They hit us at Khobar Towers in 96, killing 19 U.S. service members. And now they are trafficking murderers, weapons and blood money through Syria.

Syria is a critical line of communication for these murderers. They provide critical support to Hezbollah (the Iranian trained, supported and led terrorist organization in lebanon.) They (Gov of Syria) turn a blind eye to the shipment of IED s(look that one up, if you can take a minute out of your busy day of protesting the guys with the integrity and courage to protect you.) into Iraq to facilitate the wholesale slaughter of innocent Iraqis and U.S. Service members. I'd say that relations were already strained.

I apoogize if the news of U.S troops conducting preemptive strikes against state supported and state directed terorists organizations upsets your fragile, and earnest concern for the government of Syria .

I recomend you learn to speak Farsi, Modern Standard Arabic, or Pashtun. It will help when you are begging for your life when we capitulate to these monsters, and the Wahibis (I'm sure you super educated/ over-opinionated types will need to gogle that one as well.) end up sticking an assault rifle in your face on on the E-train.

Where does this nonsense about a "daring raid" on a peaceful Syrian village come from? In fact, it originates with some US government spokesperson who insists that his or her name and place of government employment not be named -- because the story is a collection of lies.

In its original version, it was that the US military swooped on the village, killed an Iraqi, and flew out. Nobody else was hurt. Photographs and newsfilm from the scene -- including mobile-phone video showing the Black Hawks -- make it clear that the US arrived, shot up the town, killed at least seven people and maybe eight, and left. Not even the liar who covered up those Syrian civilian deaths was suggesting that anybody fired back at the Americans.

It's notable that to this point, the Whiite House and the Pentagon are staying as far away from this bungled operation as they can. Daring raid? It was like a home invasion -- one that killed a nightwatchman and his wife, a fisherman, and three children. These dead kids included one son of a young mother interviewed while in a hospital bed and describing briefly how the daring Americans fired pointblank at her and her kids while she cowered and screamed in a tent. Hooray, daring Americans take ... tent.

We'll hear much more about this, and we won't like it much.

I am amazed at the lack of coverage this story has been receiving. I am even more amazed at the remarks I've read, such as, "If you don't police yourselves then we will do it for you!!! PERIOD! Get used to it!" - crackshot.

This is irrational and insanely dangerous thinking.

Intentionally crossing international borders to carry out military operations without the consent and/or the participation of all nations involved is aggression tantamount to an act of war. We in the U.S. would not, nor should not, tolerate such aggression on our homeland and therefore no American citizen should support any such actions against others.

Totally against the Iraq War but nothing ANYBODY can do abut that now. All we can do is support it and hope our guys get back as soon as posible for sure!! Not to mention PROTECT them while they are there NO MATTER WHAT!!


^Sure any muslims we see should be questioned. I mean are you kidding me just because we hear that it was some terrorist involved we believe it. This is cultural imperialism.

What people should keep in mind is that the last thing Syria wants is a fully democratic Iraq, as this represents the greatest threat to the dictatorial Assad regime.

This is their motivation for allowing insurgents to move into Iraq, and has been the motivation for mucking arond in Lebanon as well. They simply don't want their people looking at neighboring democracies and asking "why not us?" They can read the writing on the wall.

It's always sad if civilians are killed, but I have no doubt that we went after and got a bad guy - in fact, he must have been a real baddie for us to take such a step.

And the testimony of locals is always the same - "the US killed women and chilldren -- in fact, they were all carrying flowers and puppies."

What do you expect them to say?

Lets face it folks...the US is going to take out terrorists if you are unable or unwilling to do so. Why can't you get that through your heads. Young male muslims are being profiled by the military, like it or not.

If you don't police yourselves then we will do it for you!!!

PERIOD! Get used to it!

And as for the collateral damage(people other than the actual target) That is the price for your lack of action on this issue. Sorry about that!


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