Syrian residents claim U.S. bombing, shooting into Syria

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Syrian residents are claiming that U.S. bombings and shootings into Syrian territory are much worse than being acknowledged by either the Syrian or U.S. governments; with Syrian civilians (including children) being killed regularly.

"The government [of Syria] has kept this a secret because they don't want to be embarrassed," said Joshua Landis, a Fulbright Scholar living in Damascus. "It's the ultimate sign of their weakness, because they can do nothing about this," said the professor from the University of Oklahoma.

One resident of the Syrian town of Abu Kamal said Americans bombed a local house, killing a six-year-old boy. "They killed five or six people this month, every month, but the media doesn't report it. I don't understand." he said.

Yesterday, U.S. President George W. Bush said that Syria is an "outlaw regime."

U.S. officials have acknowledged killing Syrians with U.S. fire, but said their forces have not actually gone across the border.

"They shoot at us here every day, sometimes they're mistakes, sometimes they're not," said Syrian border guard Ibrahim Brahim. "The Americans want to show their power...If we poke our heads up, they shoot."

In May, a U.S. helicopter fired across the border and killed Abdullah al-Hassaki, a Syrian border guard, according to Syrian officials. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Barry Venable ,at the pentagon, would not comment on the allegation but said "the Syrian border with Iraq has been troublesome for some time."

One of the repeated allegations against Syria has been that it has not done enough to secure the Iraq border. The Syrian government makes the point that it has done a lot of work on the border while the U.S. led coalition has done nothing to secure the Iraqi side of the border. Syria's Major-General Amin Suleyman took foreign journalists to the border yesterday to show evidence of what it has done and what the coalition has not done. Syria has created a sand wall running along most of the frontier and built more border posts. The General said they could be doing an even better job if Britain had delivered the night vision goggles which they promised. The larger problem, according to Suleyman, is the complete absence of any regular border security (Iraqi or U.S.) on the Iraq side of the sand wall.

"Syria did all that was required of it (regarding the border), and all that it was able to do,..but we've seen nothing from the other side." Gen. Suleyman said.

Foreign diplomats based in Damascus confirm that Syria has increased its border security, and state that the flow of foreign fighters crossing from Syria into Iraq has slowed to a trickle, estimated to be 35 a month.