Skip to comments.Syria, Iraq and the United States: A Gathering Storm
Posted on 06/09/2004 12:06:20 PM PDT by Ooh-Ah
U.S. military forces have discovered a smuggling ring moving copious quantities of explosives and weapons from Iraq to terrorist training camps constructed by the Saddam Hussein regime inside Syria prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). The Pentagon also announced that the structure bombed by U.S. warplanes last week, described by many major media outlets as a wedding celebration at a private ranching operation, was actually a "dormitory-like" facility used as a "safe house" to facilitate the clandestine movement of foreign terrorists into Iraq from Syria.
According to Pentagon officials, small arms, explosives, and bomb making materials are being removed from the thousands of arms depots that remain scattered throughout Iraq and loaded onto unmarked trucks and vans traveling into Syria along hidden trade routes established before the launch of OIF, according to the Washington Times, May 25, 2004. U.S. military forces have discovered almost 9,000 such arms caches in Iraq so far and new finds occur daily. False travel documents provided by officials of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, along with the smuggled Iraqi weapons, are equipping the Syrian-based terrorists crossing back into Iraq along the 600-mile border, according to a Defense Department official who spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity.
Despite aggressive surveillance along the Syrian and Iraqi border by U.S. military reconnaissance satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and foot patrols, the terrorists are continuing to find ways to avoid detection, the Times reported.
Meanwhile, speaking at the May 22, 2004 Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt - Deputy Director for Coalition Operations in Iraq - disputed claims that the terrorist "safe house", located about 50 miles east of the Syrian border, that was bombed by U.S. warplanes the week before, was a civilian residence hosting a wedding celebration. Home video footage released by the Associated Press Television News portrays a celebration of some kind taking place at the site. Although a formal investigation continues, Kimmitt insisted that U.S. military forces struck a major terrorist housing complex. "There were no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration, no gifts," he said.
U.S. military forces sent to the scene found a sizable complex containing some 300 sets of bedding and 100 sets of packaged clothing Ð suggesting that foreign terrorists were exchanging their traditional clothes for those of a typical Iraqi civilian. Other suspicious discoveries, according to Kimmitt, included, "a significant number of identity cards, ID-making machines, capability to make exit visas for Iraq, a couple of passports [including] one from Sudan." A number of Iraqi ID cards recovered from the scene are suspected of being forgeries, Kimmitt added.
In addition, U.S. intelligence teams inspecting the site noted that, "none of the bodies had identification of any kind on them Ð no ID cards, no wallets, no picturesÉwe feel this was an indicator that this was a high-risk meeting of high-level anti-coalition forces," noted Kimmitt. "There was a tremendous number of incriminating pocket litter Ð a lot of telephone numbers to foreign countries Ð Afghanistan, Sudan, and a number of others." In addition, U.S. military personnel recovered a significant number of weapons, binoculars engraved with a reticule pattern designed for adjusting artillery fire, pre-made battery packs designed for detonating improvised explosive devises (IED), terrorist training manuals, and a white powder suspected of being cocaine. Other discoveries included syringes and a medical treatment room including a "waist-high medical table for examination and for treatment." Kimmitt rejected claims that the complex was a civilian cattle ranch, "there was no indication of ranching activities, no evidence of livestockÉ the more that we look at the post-strike intelligenceÉ the moreÉ we are persuaded that there was not a wedding going on. Bad people have celebrations, too."
VX In Failed Terrorist Jordan Attack Traced to Syria
Despite the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime in neighboring Iraq and the decision by Libyan dictator Muammar Ghadafi to surrender his WMD program and open relations with the West, Syria continues to accelerate terrorist-oriented foreign policies. Syria has for decades harbored international terrorists groups including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the anti-Turkey Kurdish Worker's Party, and the al Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Islam. Western intelligence services have monitored recruitment campaigns by al Qaeda lieutenants within Syria and Syrian President Assad has dramatically increased financial funding and weapons shipments to Hezbollah in hopes of solidifying Syria's iron grip on Lebanon, according to the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC) publication "U.S. Hardball with Syria", May 24, 2004.
Syria has amassed at least 100 ballistic missiles armed with the VX nerve agent and some high-ranking U.S. officials have publicly suggested Syria may have acquired nuclear centrifuges from the nuclear black market formerly controlled by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, the AFPC reported. The VX nerve agent discovered after the scuttled terrorist attack in Jordan last month was traced to Syrian stockpiles.
Increased relations with Beijing suggest a growing ambition to acquire a long-range ballistic missile capability based on Chinese technology while an April summit meeting held between Iran and Syria concluded a bilateral military agreement, "aimed at derailing the efforts of the United States and its coalition allies to transform the Middle East, and establishing Syria as a de facto Iranian protectorate," according to AFPC.
While the United States demands Syrian accountability, European leaders continue to pursue a policy of "constructive engagement" via the recent Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement that established a free trade zone and diplomatic ties between Europe and Syria, the AFPC noted.
Ooh-Ah is right....
Typical. Similar to when a Republican takes over the WH after a democrat, there's years of clean up that has to be done, we can look forward to Syria after the Euros find their constructive engagement did nothing but necessitate destructive engagement.......
As much as I think we should be Syria bound, it might be easier to first roll to Iran (where the populate would support us), then move toward Syria, which would be much more difficult to overwhelm.
Just an observation.
Hey, Bashar! You have until November. Enjoy your remaining time in power.
But...but...none of this matters. It's all Bush's fault the 'Arab street' is mad at us, and of course, they want to go help their Iraqi brothers in their time of need. We're occupying their country, for heaven's sake. Besides, we haven't found any evidence of WMD's despite that silly little bomb with serin gas that showed up 10 days ago. It didn't kill 10,000 people, so it doesn't count. The CIA could have planted it between bouts of torture at that horrible prison. All this negative stuff about Syria and Iran is Bush spin. Arab fundamentalists just want to get along, that's all. We should understand their pride and sense of honor has been harmed by all our achievements that have enriched the world. This line of nonsense is a precis of what I had to put up with from my idiot son visiting from New Zealand. The Cambridge brainwashed elitist lunatic has gone back to his paradise...and I believe every wonderful thing he says about that country. They are blessed, but are also mentally where we were in the fifties...deluding themselves that isolationism will protect them from the world's evil. They're wearing blinders, and the earth has grown far too small for that to work these days.
I suggest we contructively engage M1-Abrams, cruise missiles, and special forces in Syria.
It's a big problem, but an even bigger one is Iran.
The insurgents within Iraq are concentrating on wrecking the infrastructure. These are almost certainly supported by Syrian assets. So what happens, I wonder, when the new Iraqi government brings this issue up before the UN Security Council? Normally nothing, of course, but this time the plaintiffs will have a couple of divisions of U.S. forces hovering to make the point for them. Does France veto it? Would it matter at all if they did? Interesting...
My idea of 'constructive engagement' envolve an M249.
"Iran (where the populate would support us), "
This can't be counted on. Supporting Irani dissidents is one thing. Many in Iran may not be too thrilled with the idea of armed American 'infidel' troops on their own soil. There would have to be a restricted and clearcut goal and it would have to be done quickly. No getting bogged down in nation building.
Yeah, expecially those who are loyal to the mullahs, but each day the divisions grow wider. Eventually there will be a full scale civil war and a nudge from us could make it quick. I do agree, nation-building is the crux of it.
All in good time and an electoral landslide, relatively speaking.
Our friends, the Syrians.
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