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May 26, 2005

Syria Detains 1,200 Heading For Iraq?

...over the past few weeks. So they say, at least.

Syria has arrested more than 1,200 people trying to cross the border into Iraq in recent weeks and sent many back to their home countries because of suspicions they were trying to join the insurgency, Syria's U.N. ambassador said.

Ah. A catch and release program. Typical.

Fayssal Mekdad also denied rumors that terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may be seeking shelter in Syria.

Mekdad said Syria suspected that those arrested β€” mostly foreigners β€” intended to carry out illegal activities in Iraq. They were sent back to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Libya and other countries, he said.

"We gave a lot of information to the United States on these issues, which prevented many attacks, but regrettably, the United States did not recognize such kind of help," he said in an interview.

Syria's ambassador to the United States, Imad Mustafa, said Tuesday that Syria had stopped security and military cooperation with the United States in the past few months after Washington failed to respond to repeated Syrian overtures. Mekdad said contacts continued "until a few weeks ago."

Syria provided the United States with intelligence on al-Qaida after the Sept. 11 attacks. But President Bush ordered sanctions against Damascus a year ago after longstanding complaints that Syria was supporting terrorism and undermining U.S. efforts in Iraq β€” allegations it denies.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has steadily stepped up her rhetorical attack, from saying Syria was not doing enough to guard the border with Iraq to accusing it of permitting insurgents to stage their operations from Syria.

Not sure what to make of this, but it seems Syria is trying to get back in our good graces, despite (because of) our taking a firm stance.

Diplomacy and happy-talk is nice and everything, but sometimes it doesn't hurt, and may even help, to lay down the law.



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posted by Ace at 10:25 AM

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