The Australian
October 27, 2008

A US military official said the attack by special forces had targeted a network of al-Qa’ida-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria into Iraq. The Americans had been unable to shut down the network in the area because Syria was out of the US military’s reach.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

“We are taking matters into our own hands,” the official said.

The cross-border raid came just days after the commander of US forces in western Iraq said US troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an “uncontrolled” gateway for fighters entering Iraq.

A Syrian government statement said the US helicopter gunships attacked Sukkariyeh Farm near the town of Abu Kamal, 8km inside the Syrian border. Four military helicopters attacked a civilian building under construction and fired on the workers inside, killing them. Four children were among the dead, the Syrians reported.

A resident of the nearby village of Hwijeh said some of the helicopters landed and the US troops left the aircraft and fired at a building. He said the helicopters flew along the Euphrates River into the area of farms and several brick factories. Another witness said four helicopters were used in the US attack.

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, there have been some instances in which US troops crossed the 600km Syria-Iraq border in pursuit of militants, or US warplanes violated Syria’s airspace. But yesterday’s attack was the first conducted by aircraft and on such a large scale.

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