Refuge in Iraq ends with deaths of 48 Syrian troops
By The Associated Press
Published: Monday, March 4, 2013, 6:57 p.m.
BAGHDAD — Dozens of Syrian soldiers who had crossed into Iraq for refuge were ambushed on Monday with bombs, gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades in an attack that killed 48 of them and heightened concerns that the country could be drawn into Syria's civil war.
The fact that the soldiers were on Iraqi soil raises questions about Baghdad's apparent willingness to quietly aid the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The well-coordinated attack, which Iraqi officials blamed on al-Qaida's Iraq arm, suggests possible coordination between the militant group and its ideological allies in Syria, who rank among the rebels' most potent fighters.
Iraqi officials said the Syrians had sought refuge through the Rabiya border crossing in northern Iraq during recent clashes with rebels and were being escorted back home through a different crossing farther south when the ambush occurred. Their convoy was struck near Akashat, not far from the Syrian border.
Ali al-Moussawi, a spokesman for Iraq's prime minister, provided the death toll and said nine Iraqi soldiers also were killed. The Syrians had been disarmed and included some who were wounded, he said.
He said the soldiers had been allowed into Iraq on humanitarian grounds and insisted that Baghdad was not picking sides in the Syrian conflict.
The Iraqi Defense Ministry said 10 Syrians were wounded in the assault. In a statement, it warned all parties in the Syrian war against bringing the fight into Iraq, saying its response will be “firm and tough.”
Iraqi officials who provided details of the attack described a carefully orchestrated assault on the Syrians' convoy, with a senior military intelligence official saying the attackers appeared to have been tipped off.
He and another Iraqi official, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information, said it was unlikely that Syrian rebels had managed to cross into Iraq to carry out the attack.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Investigation into missing Malaysia flight centers on 2 men who boarded with stolen passports
- Ukraine control of bases erodes
- Ukraine control of bases erodes
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Israelis kill Jordanian judge at border checkpoint
- Investigators chase ‘every angle’ in missing Malaysian jet
- Jailed Egyptian activists allege abuse by prison guards
- Van der Sloot to be extradited to U.S. in 2038
- Autopsy details sicken Pistorius
- Taliban threatens to disrupt presidential election in Afghanistan
- Syrian rebels reportedly release nuns held since December