Skip to comments.US Troops Wound Syrians In Border Clash
Posted on 06/23/2003 5:16:07 PM PDT by blam
US troops wound Syrians in border clash
By David Rennie in Washington
United States special forces wounded at least five Syrian border guards as they pursued a convoy thought to be carrying senior members of Saddam Hussein's regime, it emerged yesterday.
The commandos launched an air and ground assault on convoy of six or seven vehicles speeding towards the Syrian border last week.
The attack initially raised speculation that Saddam Hussein or his sons might have been killed.
Five Syrian border guards are reported to remain in US military hands in Iraq, where they are receiving medical treatment.
Pentagon officials said US authorities were trying to arrange for their safe return to Syria, which has been under intense American pressure to close its borders to remnants of Saddam's regime.
It was not immediately clear who opened fire first, nor on which side of the border the gun battle took place, though the Pentagon admitted that the convoy may have been attacked inside Syria.
Syrian diplomats were keen to play down the clash, telling reporters that it was an "isolated incident" and saying Syrian border guards were not trying to be provocative.
Dr Imad Mustapha, Syria's deputy ambassador in Washington, said the wounded border guards were not in US custody. "We hope they will be returned very soon," he said, adding that he hoped use of deadly force was not a policy "endorsed by either country".
The clash was triggered when a vehicle or person from the convoy made a sudden run for Syria, near the border town of Qaim, a smuggling hotspot that has seen previous clashes with fleeing Iraqis. A number of former Iraqi regime members were killed and captured, defence officials said.
One Bush administration official said US special forces crossed the frontier rather than let their prey escape.
American forces were "in hot pursuit and wound up crossing the Syrian border", the unnamed official said.
Amid a cloak of tight secrecy, officials disagreed on whether DNA tests were being carried out on the human remains found in the convoy.
They confirmed that the convoy was attacked by members of Task Force 20, a commando unit hunting Saddam, backed up by air strikes from a slow-flying AC-130 gunship. They attempted to play down expectations that the dead might include the dictator, steering reporters towards unspecified "leadership figures".
The convoy strike was based on intelligence gained as a result of last week's capture of Saddam's right hand man, Gen Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti.
Mahmud is reported to have said he and Saddam's two sons, Qusay and Uday, escaped into Syria after the US invasion of Iraq, but were later forced to return.
He has also told his captors that Saddam survived the two huge bomb strikes directly aimed at him in Baghdad.
The American public remains broadly indifferent to the failure to find Saddam or weapons of mass destruction, with the majority of voters continuing to express support for the war.
A greater threat to domestic support comes from continued guerrilla attacks on US forces, which are costing American lives daily.
A delegation of senior US senators visiting Baghdad urged President George W Bush to be honest with Americans about the scale of the US commitment that would be required in Iraq, predicting that US forces would be needed for at least five years.
Senator Richard Lugar, Republican chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, said the occupation required "at least a five-year plan" and added: "There needs to be real truth-telling by the president and each of us."
Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said it was "too soon" to say how long the occupation would last. "The president's instructions are that we will stay as long as necessary but not a day longer," he said.
Well, now ... that would be a change, now wouldn't it?
Yup, I agree but, it could be something as simple as their border guards being bribed to facaliate the escapes. We may never know. (O'Reilly just said DNA testing was being done.)
Brain or not, Assad is a very dangerous man. And in very close proximity to Israel as well.
If they're not in US custody, then what do they hope to be "returned" from?
Now for some wild speculations....
Syria won't admit it OR make a big deal of it if this happened inside the Syrian border... otherwise that shows they are actively harboring members of Saddam's regime -- which they have stated repeatedly that they are not doing.
This DNA story is becoming more and more intriguing as more details seep out. Since this was a Task Force 20 operation, it gives more credence to the possibility that it might be Saddam. (And the reason for the DNA might be to make sure it's not body-doubles, as opposed to it being bits and pieces of bodies.)
It also makes sense that Uday would have been travelling with Saddam, whereas Qusay is hiding elsewhere. Qusay is the chosen son, so Saddam would want to be sure he and Qusay were not captured/killed at the same time. But Uday is a spinless wimp, and Saddam wouldn't care if Uday was captured/killed, so there's no need for Uday to be hiding somewhere on his own.
The Ace of Diamonds is always by Saddam's side... the fact that we captured him w/o Saddam is very intriguing. He supposedly was carrying a letter from Saddam, asking for "fair treatment" and all that baloney. However, according to the timeline as told by these news reports, the attack on the convoy took place on Monday but Al Tikriti wasn't captured until Wednesday... in Baghdad. This could potentially give more credence to the possibility that Saddam was killed/captured on Monday. Otherwise, why would Al Tikriti NOT be with him on Wednesday? Perhaps there was no more Saddam to guard?
Lastly, just because we're doing DNA testing does not necessarily mean we KILLED Saddam and/or Uday. We may have captured them... and we're doing the DNA testing because we want to make sure they are not body doubles.
It would be a hoot if we had them alive, to parade in front of the world as proof that we got him. And wouldn't it be a shame if he accidentally got shot on Live TV while we were walking him up the steps to his Iraqi court trial? (Can you say "staged assination for Live TV"? I wonder if there's a book depository across the street from the Iraqi Ministry of Justice? Or a grassy knoll?)
Ain't that the truth.
I would appreciate it if any of you who see more stories on this could ping me. Thanks!
I don't know if they'll address the issue, but FOX says Rummy and Gen. Myers coming up soon in a joint press conference.