October 27, 2008

Did We Enter Syria?

I don't believe we did that.

At least, not purpose. I think our guys just got lost. Not enough landmarks in the area, and they were tired. Maybe the GPS thingies on the choppers weren't working properly.

It's a shame, though:

"Syria condemns this aggression and holds the American forces responsible for this aggression and all its repercussions. Syria also calls on the Iraqi government to shoulder its responsibilities and launch and immediate investigation into this serious violation and prevent the use of Iraqi territory for aggression against Syria," the government statement said.

Textbook chutzpah.

You know, I'd hate to see your friends in Lebanon get angry with you, Dudes. It would be a goddamned tragedy if weapons fell into their hands that would end up pointed in your direction. I'd feel awful about a thing like that.

On Thursday, U.S. Maj. Gen. John Kelly said Iraq's western borders with Saudi Arabia and Jordan were fairly tight as a result of good policing by security forces in those countries but that Syria was a "different story."

"The Syrian side is, I guess, uncontrolled by their side," Kelly said. "We still have a certain level of foreign fighter movement."

He added that the U.S. was helping construct a sand berm and ditches along the border. "There hasn't been much, in the way of a physical barrier, along that border for years," Kelly said.

The foreign fighters network sends militants from North Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East to Syria, where elements of the Syrian military are in league with al-Qaida and loyalists of Saddam Hussein's Baath party, the U.S. military official said.

. . . . . . . . .

The White House in August approved similar special forces raids from Afghanistan across the border of Pakistan to target al-Qaida and Taliban operatives. At least one has been carried out.

The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq has been cut to an estimated 20 a month, a senior U.S. military intelligence official told the Associated Press in July. That's a 50 percent decline from six months ago, and just a fifth of the estimated 100 foreign fighters who were infiltrating Iraq a year ago, according to the official.
Ninety percent of the foreign fighters enter through Syria, according to U.S. intelligence. Foreigners are some of the most deadly fighters in Iraq, trained in bomb-making and with small-arms expertise and more likely to be willing suicide bombers than Iraqis.

Foreign fighters toting cash have been al-Qaida in Iraq's chief source of income. They contributed more than 70 percent of operating budgets in one sector in Iraq, according to documents captured in September 2007 on the Syrian border. Most of the fighters were conveyed through professional smuggling networks, according to the report.

More:

The US has neither confirmed nor denied the operation took place. If the attack occurred, it would have been carried out by Task Force 88, the special operations hunt-killer teams assigned to target al Qaeda operatives as well as Shia terrorists in Iraq.

The US has shied away from conducting strikes inside Syria in the past. If confirmed this would be the first such strike inside Syria since the US invaded Iraq in March of 2003.

Syria has sheltered Iraqi insurgents and foreign al Qaeda fighters, and allowed the groups to run camps inside the country. Syria also facilitates the movement of foreign fighters into the country and across the border into Iraq.

If the raid occurred, the US military must have detected a senior member of al Qaeda in Iraq in the region. Abu Ayyub al Masri, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, is reported to have left the country earlier this year after the terror group lost its sanctuaries in Diyala province.

The US military may be closing in on al Qaeda’s senior leadership. US forces killed Abu Qaswarah, al Qaeda in Iraq's second in command, during a raid in Mosul in northern Iraq on Oct. 15. The military has also killed and captured numerous al Qaeda leader and couriers over the past several weeks. The information obtained during these raids help to paint a picture of al Qaeda’s command structure inside of of Iraq as well as in neighboring countries.

And yet more:

Wanted insurgent leaders, such as Mishan al Jabouri, openly live in Syria. Jabouri, a former member of the Iraqi parliament, fled to Syria after being charged with corruption for embezzling government funds and for supporting al Qaeda. From Syria Jabouri ran Al Zawraa, a satellite television statement that aired al Qaeda and Islamic Army of Iraq propaganda videos showing attacks against US and Iraqi forces.

Al Qaeda established a network of operatives inside Syria to move foreign fighters, weapons, and cash to support its terror activities inside Iraq. An al Qaeda manual detailed ways to infiltrate Iraq via Syria. The manual, titled The New Road to Mesopotamia, was written by a jihadi named Al Muhajir Al Islami, and discovered in the summer of 2005.

The Iraqi-Syrian border was broken down into four sectors: the Habur crossing near Zakhu in the north; the Tal Kujik and Sinjar border crossings west of Mosul; the Al Qaim entry point in western Anbar; and the southern crossing at Al Tanf west of Rutbah near the Jordanian border. Islami claimed the Al Tanf and Habur crossing points were too dangerous to use, and Al Qaim was the preferred route into Iraq.

The US military learned a great deal about al Qaeda's network inside Syria after a key operative was killed in September of 2007. US forces killed Muthanna, the regional commander of al Qaeda's network in the Sinjar region.

During the operation, US forces found numerous documents and electronic files that detailed "the larger al-Qaeda effort to organize, coordinate, and transport foreign terrorists into Iraq and other places," Major General Kevin Bergner, the former spokesman for Multinational Forces Iraq, said in October 2007.

Bergner said several of the documents found with Muthanna included a list of 500 al Qaeda fighters from "a range of foreign countries that included Libya, Morocco, Syria, Algeria, Oman, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom."

Other documents found in Muthanna's possession included a "pledge of a martyr," which is signed by foreign fighters inside Syria, and an expense report. The pledge said the suicide bomber must provide a photograph and surrender their passport. It also stated the recruit must enroll in a "security course" in Syria. The expense report was tallied in US dollars, Syrian lira, and Iraqi dinars, and included items such as clothing, food, fuel, mobile phone cards, weapons, salaries, "sheep purchased," furniture, spare parts for vehicles, and other items.

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point later conducted a detailed study of the "Sinjar Records," which was published in July 2008. The study showed that al Qaeda had an extensive network in Syria and the Syrian government has allowed their activities to continue.

"The Syrian government has willingly ignored, and possibly abetted, foreign fighters headed to Iraq," the study concluded. "Concerned about possible military action against the Syrian regime, it opted to support insurgents and terrorists wreaking havoc in Iraq."

Al Qaeda established multiple networks of "Syrian Coordinators" that "work primarily with fighters from specific countries, and likely with specific Coordinators in fighters’ home countries," according to the study. The Syrian city of Dayr al Zawr serves as a vital logistical hub and a transit point for al Qaeda recruits and operatives heading to Iraq.

A vast majority of the fighters entering Iraq from Sinjar served as suicide bombers. The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point estimated that 75 percent conducted suicide attacks inside Iraq

My emphases.


I just feel terrible about violating Syria's sovereignty. I'll be home alone in my room, crying all day, if you need me.


BTW, I'm stealing all this stuff from Vinnie's entry at Ace's site. I feel terrible about that, too.

I had a little sorrow, Born of a little sin, And found a room all dank with gloom And shut myself within.

And, "little sorrow weep," said I,
And, "little soul, pray God to die.
And I upon the floor will lie
And think how bad I've been.

Alas for pious planning!
It mattered not a whit.
As far as gloom went in that room,
The lamp might have been lit.

So up I got in anger,
And took a book I had,
And put a ribbon on my hair
To please a passing lad.

And, "one thing there's no getting by,
I've been a wicked girl," said I.
"But if I can't be sorry, well . . .
I might as well be glad."

—Edna St. Vincent Millay

I may not be word-perfect on the Millay poem; that was from memory. No time to look it up.

Posted by Attila Girl at October 27, 2008 04:01 AM | TrackBack
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