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US missile hits bus: report

A US missile hit a passenger bus carrying Syrian civilians fleeing the war in Iraq, killing five and injuring 10, Syria's official news agency reported.

The agency reported that the air-to-surface missile hit the bus yesterday morning in Iraq close to the Syrian border.

A US Central Command spokeswoman had no information on the report that a missile had hit a bus.

She said, however, that US forces do not target civilians, and that their targeting is done very carefully, using precision-guided missiles, to select military targets.

The Syrian agency said the wounded were taken to a Syrian hospital on the Syrian-Iraqi border, while the dead were sent to a hospital on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, where officials said relatives have retrieved the bodies.

Some "wounded were treated here and then taken (to their homes) in the (northern Syrian) cities of Hama and Aleppo," Dr Abdullah al-Salhi, director general of the Douma hospital near Damascus, told The Associated Press.

Syria, which strongly opposes the US-led war on Iraq, has repeatedly called for a peaceful solution of the Iraq-US dispute over Baghdad's weapons arsenal.

Meanwhile, four Iraqi diplomats and their families arrived in the Syrian city of Daraa, 120km south of Damascus, after neighbouring Jordan ordered them to leave on Saturday, the Syrian agency reported.

The four diplomats were among five officials attached to the Iraqi Embassy in Jordan whom authorities expelled for actions "incompatible" with their diplomatic duties.

Jordanian authorities said the expulsions, the first of Iraqi officials by an Arab state, were ordered for "security" reasons and independently to a US request to close Iraqi embassies in 60 countries and expel their diplomats.

The Associated Press


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