US forces were involved in an air-ground raid in Syria today that reportedly left eight Syrian 'workers' dead and several buildings destroyed.There were no reported US casualties.
The Syrians told al-Jazeera's Arabic news that th eAmericans had killed several children in th eraid and the BBC dutifully picked this nonsense up, but aside from al-Beeb no other Western media sources was silly enough to be sucked in by this.
What was actually going on was a raid by special forces targeting the jihadi network of foreign fighters that runs through Syria into Iraq. The Syrians, in spite of a lot of rhetoric have been remiss to shut down the traffic in men, money and arms to keep the Iraq insurgency alive.
"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.
A resident of the nearby village of Hwijeh said some of the helicopters landed and troops exited the aircraft and fired on a building. He said the aircraft flew along the Euphrates River into the area of farms and several brick factories. The witness spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information,
Syria's Foreign Ministry said it summoned the charges d'affaires of the United States and Iraq to protest against the strike.
"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.
The area targeted is just across the border from the Iraqi city of Qaim, which had been known as the main crossing point for the jihadis.
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."
I'd also speculate that while the US may have been planning this for awhile, we may have had intel about a big fish in the vicinity.
We may find out more later...