Raid in Syria hits enemy base
An apparent U.S. helicopter raid into Syria on Sunday killed eight people, prompting a sharp condemnation from Damascus and a defense of the cross-border operation from an Iraqi official who said it targeted a known group of terrorists.Syria's description of these guys as civilians probably means they were enemy combatants camouflaged as civilians. It is also an indication of how complicit Syria has been in facilitating enemy activity in Iraq. It is also possible that high value targets may have fled Iraq and taken sanctuary along the border.
The reported operation in al-Boukamal, roughly six miles from the border with Iraq, occurred about 4:45 p.m., the Syrian Arab News Agency reported, citing an unnamed government source.
Without confirming U.S. involvement, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the group targeted in the raid was responsible for attacks in Iraq, including one recently that killed 13 police in an Iraqi village near the Syrian border, the Reuters news service reported.
"Iraq had asked Syria to hand over this group which uses Syria as a base for its terrorist activities," Dabbagh said.
But Syrian officials said that only civilians were killed, and on Sunday summoned the top U.S. diplomat in the country, Charge d'Affaires Maura Connelly, to notify her of "Syria's condemnation and complaint of this dangerous aggression," the Syrian Arab News Agency reported.
U.S. attacks inside Syria are extremely rare, though the U.S. military has stepped up security along Iraq's border with Syria in recent months to stem the traffic of fighters and weapons into Iraq. U.S. officials say many insurgents, particularly suicide bombers, arrive in Iraq via the Syrian border.
Update: Fox News reports an al Qaeda commander was killed in the raid.
This makes Syria's reaction to the strike sound like they were complicit in trying to cover the al Qaeda operations in Syria aimed at Iraq.
A U.S. strike on a network of foreign fighters in Syria killed its main target — an Al Qaeda coordinator who was wanted for sending foreign fighters, weapons and cash into Iraq, a U.S. official told FOX News.
Killed in Sunday's attack by Special Operations Forces was Abu Ghadiyain, Al Qaeda's senior coordinator operating in Syria who was closely associated with the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Bill Roggio has more on the Syrian raid.
CBS News' national security correspondent David Martin reports, "... special operations forces went in on the ground because unlike an air strike, it allows them to pick up intelligence. They undoubtedly left with every cell phone and laptop they could find. U.S. officials do not believe they killed any innocent civilians, although that remains uncertain." That makes a lot of sense to me.
There is some indication that others besides the al Qaeda leader were snatched and they could provide further intelligence on the al Qaeda infiltration operation.