Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Iraq on Tuesday slammed a deadly American helicopter raid on a Syrian border village at the weekend, an assault a US official in Washington said had targeted a prominent militant.
The unidentified US official said the weekend raid on the Syria-Iraq border had been “successful,” and that among those believed killed was Abu Ghadiya, “one of the most prominent foreign fighter facilitators in the region.”
But Syria said the eight people killed in Sunday’s assault were all civilians, including children, and it has branded the raid — the first confirmed US action of its kind inside Syrian territory — a “terrorist” act.
“The Iraqi government rejects the US helicopter strike on Syrian territory, considering that Iraq’s constitution does not allow its land to be a base for launching attacks on neighbouring countries,” Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.
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“We call upon American forces not to repeat such activities and Baghdad has launched an investigation into the strike.”
On Monday Dabbagh said the raid targeted a border area used by insurgents to launch attacks against Iraq, and on Tuesday he urged Syria to prevent groups from using its territory “for training and sending terrorists for attacks on Iraq and its people.”
Iraq’s parliament said in a statement it has asked the cabinet to “keep it and the Syrian brothers informed about the investigation launched by the government into the raid. It regrets that the operation took place at a time when relations between Iraq and its neighbours are progressing.”
On Monday Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, speaking in London after talks with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, said: “Killing civilians in international law means a terrorist aggression.”
Muallem said four US helicopters had crossed the border, with two landing at the village of Al-Sukkiraya village, eight kilometres (five miles) from the border on the Euphrates river and close to the Iraqi town of Al-Qaim, a stronghold of Al-Qaeda and other insurgents.
Soldiers emerged after the helicopters landed and shot at civilians working on farms, including a father and his three children and a fisherman, he said.
This article was posted: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 12:02 pm