The Syrian ambassador to the United States lashed out at the Bush
administration following a deadly suspected U.S. military raid inside Syria last
Sunday. Ambassador Imad Moustapha called the raid a criminal, terrorist attack
against innocent civilians. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has details from
Speaking to a conference in Washington on
Thursday, Ambassador Moustapha says the assault on the Syrian village of
Sukkariyah near the Iraqi border occurred when U.S. helicopters attacked a group
of people building a home.
Syria has demanded that the United States and Iraq apologize, and investigate
the attack, which Moustapha says killed eight civilians.
"They killed all these guys. Then two other helicopters went down and the
soldiers from those helicopters moved around the bodies being sure that each
single person was killed and shooting additional bullets into the bodies. It was
a criminal, terrorist attack against unarmed, innocent civilians," he said.
Ambassador Moustapha says a father and four of his sons were killed. He says
a husband and wife also died. Moustapha says an eighth man, a fisherman, also
was killed in the raid. He says all those who died were Syrian.
The Bush administration has neither confirmed nor denied the attack, and the
identities of the victims have not been independently identified.
U.S. officials, speaking anonymously, say the operation targeted the leader
of a smuggling network used to send foreign fighters, weapons and money to
The officials say U.S. commandos killed several armed men, including Abu
Ghadiyah, whom they identified as a leader of the insurgent group al-Qaida in
Ambassador Moustapha questioned the timing of the attack, indicating that
relations between Syria and the United States have recently improved.
He pointed out that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met in September
with her Syrian counterpart on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
This month, U.S. Army General David Petraeus, the former top military
commander in Iraq, said there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of
foreign fighters coming across the Syrian border into Iraq.
In his speech to the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Moustapha
charged that the attack might have been launched to manipulate American voters'
attitudes ahead of next week's presidential election.
within the [Bush] administration believe that it is time to reengage with Syria,
while others say, 'Look, this is an election time. We need to do something to
remind the people that we have a crisis in Iraq and we are fighting against
al-Qaida. Let us do something, you know Rambo-style, so that we can steer
emotions and ideas within the hearts and minds of the American people, so that
they might reconsider their elections positions,'" he said.
The Syrian ambassador's comments came on the same day that thousands of
people rallied in Damascus to protest the raid.
The crowd chanted anti-American slogans, but dispersed peacefully after
The U.S. embassy in Damascus closed for the day because of security