Syria continues to facilitate aid to Sunni insurgents
in their battle against the U.S. military in Iraq.
U.S. officials said Syria has failed to stop the flow of Islamic
combatants from entering and leaving Iraq. They estimate that hundreds of
Iraqi, Lebanese, Saudi and Syrian nationals are entering Iraq to battle U.S.
Damascus, the officials said, continues to allow entry to members of the
deposed Iraqi regime as well as Shi'ite and Sunni insurgents. They said it
was not clear whether President Bashar Assad himself was allowing the
freedom of movement by the insurgents.
On June 18, a U.S. combined task crossed the Syrian border in pursuit of
a convoy of vehicles believed to have contained senior aides of deposed
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said the task force fought Syrian
border guards who tried to block the entry of U.S. troops.
"We have things that would suggest that someone on the Syrian side was
involved, but whether
it was people connected with the government, that I haven't got a definitive
answer to," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.
[On Wednesday, a U.S. soldier was said to have been killed in the
Baghdad region. Earlier, the Pentagon said six U.S. soldiers were injured on
Officials said five Syrians were injured in the clash and 20 were
captured. All but three of the Syrians have been released.
"As of Friday, they were still being interrogated," Gen. Richard Myers,
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Monday.
Officials said the U.S. task force had acted on intelligence that Iraqi
regime officials were moving toward the Syrian border in a convoy of sport
utility vehicles. At that point, they said, an air and infantry task force
was sent to the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Meanwhile, the U.S. 4th Infantry Division and Task Force Iron Horse have
maintained counter-insurgency operations against Saddam strongholds in
northwest Iraq. The U.S. military is said to have captured the son of Iraqi
Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, regarded as one of the leading members
of the former regime. Ramadan's son was said to have been injured in the
U.S. military operation.