ANKARA Ñ Syria has facilitated the passage of hundreds of Arab
nationals intent on fighting U.S. and British troops in Iraq.
Arab diplomatic sources said several groups of Algerians, Lebanese,
Palestinians and Syrians have crossed the border into Iraq. They said the
volunteers comprise mostly of Palestinians in the Damascus area recruited by
the regime of President Saddam Hussein.
Syrian authorities have not regulated the flow of people who entered
Iraq, the sources said. They said Syrian authorities have not asked
volunteers to show passports at the border with Iraq.
At one point, the sources said, the flow of Syrians to Iraq reached 100
per day. They said the Syrians are heading for suicide missions for Saddam
in Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk.
Many of the volunteers leaving Syria were sent by Palestinian insurgency
groups. On Sunday, Islamic Jihad, based in Damascus, announced that it had
sent the first group of suicide bombers to Baghdad and compared the war with
the United States to that with Israel.
"Iraq, we heed your call," the Jihad statement said. "It is one war from
Najaf to Tulkarm and from Jenin to Baghdad."
The Qatari-owned A-Jazeera satellite channel said the Syrian nationals
have been brought to the northern city of Mosul. From there, the channel
said, the Syrians were recruited by Iraq's military to serve with units
For its part, Iraq has reported the arrival of 4,000 Arabs ready to blow
themselves up to stop the advance of U.S.-led forces toward Baghdad. The
volunteers were said have come from Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia,
Syria and Yemen.
"The Islamic warriors who have come to Iraq have come from all Arab
countries, without exception," Iraqi military spokesman Hazim Rawi told a
news conference in Baghdad on Sunday. "More than 4,000 have already come to