In a conference today in Damascus about security in Iraq, western officials praised Syria for its efforts to prevent foreign fighters from infiltrating into Iraq. The United States Charge d’Affaires however, condemned the host country, accusing them of “giving safe haven to terrorists” and demanded that they take action against the “terrorist networks.”
In its own comments at the conference, Syrian Interior Minister Gen. Bassam Abdul Majid said they were taking “all necessary procedures” to control the border with Iraq and emphasized their own commitment to stability in Iraq, citing a car bombing in Damascus in which militants reportedly used a stolen car from Iraq.
The debate between the United States and Syria on the border is particularly pressing in the wake of last month’s US raid on a border town, which Syria insists killed eight construction workers but the US claims killed a terror network organizer.
Despite attempting to justify its attack by criticizing Syrian border security, two quotes from US military officials, one days before the attack and one days after, seemed to indicate that forces on the ground near the Syrian border saw the security situation improving in the period leading up to the strike. Whether the latest US condemnations are the prelude to another cross-border raid or another attempt to justify the prior attack remains to be seen.