Michael's Dispatches

Bloody Border, Messy Politics

27 October 2008

Yesterday, U.S. special operations forces struck positions across the Syrian-Iraq order, inside of Syria, apparently killing nine people, most of whom were non-Syrian Arab fighters on their way into Iraq. Of course there is a great cry rising from the Syrians today.

For years, tons of explosives and a long line of foreign terrorists have streamed across the Syrian border into Anbar Province and Nineveh Province, Iraq.  I must have spent a total of about nine months in Nineveh, about eight of which were in the capital of Mosul, and another month in Anbar.

Foreign terrorists were caught or killed on a regular basis, and they all had the same story:  They came from an alphabet soup of Arab countries: Algeria, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen, to name a handful. They had come through Syria.  I remember the day the Libyan was captured in 2005.  Iraqis were trying to force him to wear a suicide vest to attack police in Mosul.  I remember the night, a raid that I did not go on, when the Tunisians were captured in 2005, resulting in hand-to-hand combat that did not go well for the Tunisians.  The owner of the safe house was captured with a diary listing dates and effects for years of attacks; that diary actually matched up perfectly with SIGACT reports of the same incidents. The Tunisians were captured with all sorts of documentation, as I recall, that chronicled their long journey by all modes of transport to get through to Syria and across into Mosul.

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