Syria Rebels Blame Iraq for Eastern Air Strike

Fighting Rages Nationwide as Refugees Continue to Pour Out of Syria

by Jason Ditz, April 26, 2013

The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) has issued a statement today blaming the Iraqi government, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in particular, for an air strike against the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.

Local rebels say that the warplane which launched the strike was seen flying across the Iraqi border, though there are differences in opinion as to whether it was an Iraqi plane or simply a Syrian MiG that used Iraqi air space during the bombing run.

Iraq has made it a public point to attempt to stay neutral in the ongoing civil war next door, but with some of the rebels openly tied to Iraqi militants and a sectarian fight growing in Iraq itself, there may be pressure on Maliki to back Assad more openly.

That said, while spillover violence is being experienced by multiple Syrian neighbors, this would be the first time a neighboring military directly took a role inside Syria, since even Turkey, which has been hosting the rebels, has so far refused to take the step of crossing the border.

Violence continues to be a problem nationwide in Syria, and neighbors are still struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of refugees, civilians chased out of the country by the fighting.

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