US aircraft crossed five miles into Syrian air space Oct. 26 and launched a raid that left at least eight dead and several more injured near the Iraqi border, Damascus charges. The Foreign Ministry summoned the US envoy in Damascus to protest “this dangerous aggression,” Syria’s state news agency Sana reported.
Sana said four US military helicopters entered Syria along the Iraqi border in Bukamal near the town of Deir Ezzor, considered a haven for Sunni insurgents infiltrating Iraq. The Sana report said the helicopters fired on civilian laborers at their jobs. Witnesses said that two helicopters landed, and eight US soldiers disembarked and stormed a building.
The Los Angeles Times identified Deir Ezzor as near the site of the September 2007 Israeli air strike on what US officials have claimed was a plutonium plant built with North Korean assistance.
In Washington, officials would neither confirm nor deny that a raid had taken place. US officials have often accused Syria of allowing Sunni insurgents to cross into Iraq. But in recent months Damascus and Washington have begun taking steps toward rapprochement. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem met briefly with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month. (LAT, Oct. 26)
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