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IRAQ: Commando raid on Syria raises question of timing


The timing of the reported raid by U.S. special forces on a location in Syria raises an intriguing question.

The Syrian government pinpoints a spot about five miles or so away from the Iraqi community known as Al Qaim.

For five years the Marines used a massive railroad yard at Al Qaim as a major base on the Syrian border.

From there, the Marines and other U.S. military and civilian agencies could watch for insurgents sneaking into Iraq along desert smuggling trails that go back centuries.

Marine squads would fan out into the desert at night to  battle the smugglers. Marines reported artillery attacks launched from Syrian soil, which brought denials from the Syrian ambassador.

This month the Marines formally turned over the railroad yard to the Iraqis, as part of an overall pullback of U.S. forces in Anbar province. A Marine and Iraqi contingent visiting the base Oct. 13 found that it "housed nothing more than a small guard force, train cars rusting on the rails and empty buildings," according to a report in the American Forces Press Service.

No longer operational were the massive chow hall, the housing units, the intelligence-gathering apparatus, the state-of-the-art communications center, and the vehicle and helicopter maintenance facility.

Was the weekend raid a way for the U.S. to warn the insurgents, and their Syrian cohorts, that although the U.S. is retreating from the border, it is still on watch and able to strike?

Coming days may bring the answer. Or not.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Marines, Iraqi army officers, and Iraqi and U.S. civilian officers tour the now-abandoned Al Qaim base. Credit: Marine Corps

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Comments () | Archives (29)

US Marine Force Recon

I love the drama that plays on these discussion boards in the bubble society known as the United States. The motivation is simple...foreign fighters come leak into Iraq from foreign nations. Hence the title FOREIGN fighters. Obviously Syria is not doing enough to prevent the leaks, and so someone has to do it. Why? Because if it is not done then there will always be a safe staging area for insurgents to train and come back at their leisure. I gurantee operations will continue regardless who is president. Quit with the wacky movie plots.

Syrians will be restrained because they know Bush's policy, this operation needed high levels clearance. I would never be caught off guard of this administration, I expect something worse by election day.
We will know in a few months the motivations. But this is dangerous move.

Special Operation Forces conduct raids on a daily basis. There is no Tom Clancy twist on the politics behind it...get over it.

Hey conservatives, if you are so keen on war and so fiscally conservative, why don't cough up the money to pay for it. Oh no you would rather use my hard earned tax dollars.

Republican hypocrisy - Create wars rely and people like me who make money to pay for their stupidity.

Never complain, never explain, just get the job done and let the libs all howl.
Posted by: The Sanity Inspector | October 26, 2008 at 08:46 PM

You really keep that Bush Doctrine tucked under your pillow...

Last I checked, the president needed the authority of Congress to attack another country. Why not let the Iraqis defend their own borders with all their oil surplus money?

Our President clearly stated on September 12, 2001 that the war on terrorism would be long, expensive and with human sacrifice. There are many things too many in fact to list here but I believe all Americans know what is at stake here, and Syria has a history of sponsoring terrorists, anihilation of Isreal and collaboration with other terrorist states. This action was warranted and necessary

Hi Jeff wake up

We bombed Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have military operations in Iran and we wonder why people in that part of the world don't like us.

Why would the US military publicize this and not the raid in Pakistan? I am tired of these right wing hawks. If you are so certain of your righteousness, sign up and get on a plane!

Take Nothing for Granted, Fear has been the Republican tactic since September 11, 2001. Now More Than Ever...Republican Regime Change is Vital!

Take Nothing for Granted, Fear has been the Republican tactic since September 11, 2001. Now More Than Ever...Republican Regime Change is Vital!

We had to get them while we could. When Barrack gets in he will personally fly over, and, as a good gesture, offer them the state of Florida....

Take Nothing for Granted, Fear has been the Republican tactic since September 11, 2001. Now More Than Ever...Republican Regime Change is Vital!

Glad to see others have caught on to the timing of this. Deeply suspicious. Also, the administration has been working hard to squelch reports of similar activity in Pakistan. Why does this hit the news.

At least it wasn't Iran.

Oh, MAN, you've just GOT to love the left wing conspiracy hysteria in this thread. I'd almost forgotten what moonbats they are.

republicans how low can you go.....

We kill them in Pakastan.. we kick down thier doors and kill them in Iraq.. we kill them in afganistan... and now just for spice, Syria. We believe torture is necessary... and our leader has an IQ of 100. My what a wonderful christian, and humane country we are

This is completely transparent. The timing of this attack, 9 days before the election, is completely political. The Republicans want to change the conversation; play the fear card, let McCain show his "strength" in security/foreign affairs and make the discussion of the economy go a way for a few days.

Why does this article give no mention of the U.S. Army that held this train station from 03'-04'? I spent a year in Iraq, with time in Ramadi, Bahgdad, and Al Qaim. Al Qaim was by far the worst. Give some credit where credit is due. It has not been only the Marines.

What a shame! Republicans are capables of order a rid
and maybe put the country in danger all that to rich the white house!
I just c' ant belevied

My fear now is that Bush is trying to create an international crisis to benefits McCane.

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