Sunday, October 26, 2008

Eight people including four children killed in Syrian village; U.S. military has yet to comment on charge it raided target with gunfire and missiles

The Associated Press, quoting an unnamed U.S. military official, reports that American forces raided a village five miles inside Syria -- killing four children.

AP's story reads:

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - U.S. military helicopters launched an extremely rare attack Sunday on Syrian territory close to the border with Iraq, killing eight people in a strike the government in Damascus condemned as "serious aggression."

A U.S. military official said the raid by special forces targeted the foreign fighter network that travels through Syria into Iraq. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area because Syria was out of the military's reach.

"We are taking matters into our own hands," the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids.

The attack came just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq said American 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 helicopters attacked the Sukkariyeh Farm near the town of Abu Kamal, five miles inside the Syrian border. Four helicopters attacked a civilian building under construction shortly before sundown and fired on workers inside, the statement said.

The government said civilians were among the dead, including four children.

The New York Times offers much less information. It reports this evening that eight construction workers were killed at a Syrian village on the Iraqi border. But The Times says that the U.S. military has yet to comment. The Times also says the deaths were due to American shelling, not a raid across the Syrian border.

I'll provide more updates as they come in.

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