Iraq boosts police presence on Syrian border

November 3rd, 2008 - 12:21 am ICT by IANS  

Baghdad, Nov 2 (DPA) The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have boosted their presence along the country’s border with Syria following a US raid inside the neighbouring country last week, reports said Sunday.Syria had pulled police back from the border as a response to the US commando raid last Sunday that killed eight people in the village of Abu Kemal.

The raid reportedly targeted an Al Qaeda supporter responsible for smuggling fighters, weapons and money into Iraq, although no official clarification has been made.

While the US has criticized Syria for failing to stop cross-border militant activity, Syria called the raid an attack on its sovereignty.

Groups of Iraqi police vehicles were re-deployed from Anbar province to the border town of Qaem, Tariq al-Assal, Chief of Anbar police told the London based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper.

The border town is known for the smuggling of militants from Syria to Iraq.

The reinforcements were meant to protect the borders with Syria and prevent “militant smuggling”, al-Assal said.

Syria did not officially confirm the withdrawal of its police on its borders. The Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV channel reported a sharp decrease in the number of Syrian police. Some Syrian police were sleeping or wandering in the fields, the channel said.

The US considers Syria a state sponsor of terrorism. The US has imposed sanctions on Syria for backing groups such as the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Meanwhile, President of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region Massoud Barzani said Sunday that his government would welcome US bases on its territory if Iraq and Washington failed to sign a security pact, the Dubai-based al-Arabiya channel reported.

The US and Iraq are currently attempting to hammer out a deal on the status of US forces in the country beyond the end of the UN mandate, which runs out at the end of 2008.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said he expects a reply from Washington shortly on amendments to the draft agreement tabled by Iraqi legislators last week.

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