Sunday, October 26, 2008
Early reports on US attack on Syria differ
by Larry Geller
The hot news is that US helicopters have attacked within Syria, reportedly killing eight civilians (some reports suggest more casualties).
But what you learn depends on what you read. The AP story in the Advertiser’s breaking news soft-pedals the facts:
DAMASCUS, Syria — U.S. military helicopters attacked an area along Syria's border with Iraq today, killing eight people, the Syrian government said.
Al Jazeera was more upfront with its lead:
At least eight people have been killed in a US helicopter raid in eastern Syria, close to the country's border with Iraq, a Syrian official has said.
There are also more details:
"Four American helicopters violated Syrian airspace around 4.45pm local time [13:45 GMT] on Sunday," state television and Sana news agency reported.
Syria has summoned the US and Iraqi charge d'affaires to Damascus, to protest against the raid, Sana reported.
During the raids, two of the helicopters landed and dropped off eight US soldiers, who then entered a house, Syrian media reported.
"American soldiers ... attacked a civilian building under construction and fired at workmen inside, causing eight deaths," the reports said.
From the AP story you’d never know that the Syrians are understandably upset.
The incident isn’t even on CNN’s webpage at this moment:
The Syrian foreign ministry summoned the US envoy in Damascus to protest at the raid.
A government official told Sana: "Syria condemns this aggressive act and holds American forces responsible for this aggression and all of its repercussions."
Official media said the Iraqi envoy had also been summoned.
If confirmed, the raid would be the first by US forces inside Syrian territory, says the BBC's Natalia Antelava.
Syria, unlike Iran, probably cannot strike back. Will this attack simply fade away, or is it the beginning of a new aspect of the mid-East war, and why now, just before elections?
It's on CNN.com now, which reported: "The U.S. military conducted a successful strike into Syria on Sunday to kill a suspected al Qaeda facilitator, a U.S. official said Monday.
So just being suspected is enough to warrant an air strike?
Sure. Remember all those people we have locked up and tortured at Guantanamo, Abu Grahib, Diego Garcia, all the black sites, and those rendered to other countries? They are just suspects also, few have been charged.
Domestically we arrest people and keep them in solitary confinement or torture them and then release them. Wen Ho Lee was one that got publicity (and $1.6 million in settlement, later, for government and media leaks).