The U.S. military is moving troops that were withdrawn from Sunni and Shi'ite
cities to areas near the Syrian border. The units have orders to stop Islamic insurgents from entering Iraq from
U.S. officials said the military has redeployed marines from Faluja to
the Syrian border. They said the marines have been operating in the Anbar
province in an effort to prevent the flow of Al Qaida-inspired insurgents
from Syria into Iraq.
"They were able to go ahead and pull some of those forces back out to
not only secure the borders," Maj. Gen. John Sattler, Central Command
operations director, said. "But also to work the towns along the Syrian
border, which is important to make sure that there are no safe havens in
Officials said the military has made the prevention of
foreign insurgency movement from Syria to Iraq a high priority, Middle East Newsline reported. The officials said thousands of
mostly Sunni insurgents from throughout the Middle East have arrived in
Syria for the trek to Iraq.
The initiative to stop Islamic insurgents from crossing the
Iraqi-Syrian border has been bloody. On May 29, three Marines were killed
in Anbar during what officials termed security and stability
operations. No further details were reported.
For his part, Sattler said the U.S. military has contained the flow of
insurgents from Syria into Iraq. But he said the 900-kilometer border
between the two countries provides lots of opportunities for insurgents.
"They [marines] were able to go ahead and pull some of those forces back
out to," Sattler, in a Pentagon briefing from Qatar, said,
"not only secure the borders but also to work the towns along the Syrian
border, which is important ø all the same reasons: to make sure that there
are no safe havens in those towns and, in addition, to work civil military
operations projects, bring some degree of commerce, bring money into the
town and go ahead and enhance the quality of life."
In May, the military killed more than 20 people at an Iraqi facility
near the Syrian border said to have been used as an insurgency way-station.
Officials dismissed assertions by Iraqi sources that those killed were
revelers at a wedding party.
"We have very good intelligence that indicates beyond our shadow of a
doubt that that safe house was in fact being used as a safe house to bring
fighters across the border and into Iraq," Sattler said. "It was a halfway
house where there were clothes there, there were weapons there, there were
false documentation there."