Syria, Iraq in talks to ease tension over U.S. raid

November 4, 2008 - 0:0

BAGHDAD (AFP) -– Damascus and Baghdad are discussing ways to ease the tension between the two neighbors in the wake of last week's raid inside Syria by Iraq-based U.S. forces, the foreign ministry said on Sunday.

The ministry said in a statement that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem telephoned his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari on Saturday in a bid to ease the tension.
""They discussed relations between the two countries and ways to enhance them and how to overcome tensions in the aftermath of the raid,"" the statement said.
American forces a week ago raided a Syrian border village in an operation a U.S. official in Washington said targeted militants who smuggle arms and fighters into Iraq.
Damascus said eight civilians were killed in the helicopter assault that occurred inside Syrian territory.
The incursion triggered fresh tension between Damascus and Baghdad, and Syria reportedly reduced the presence of its forces in border areas.
The U.S. military has regularly accused Syria of turning a blind eye towards foreign insurgents entering Iraq to fight the U.S. occupation.
Iraq, meanwhile, has sent extra police to boost security along its border with Syria after Damascus reduced its troops, an interior ministry spokesman in Baghdad said on Sunday.
The additional forces, from western Anbar province, were sent to secure areas where foreign fighters are known to infiltrate Iraq, Major General Abdel Karim Khalaf said.
The policemen are expected to be deployed around Iraq's border town of Al-Qaim, a known transit point for foreign fighters entering the country from Syria. Al-Qaim is close to Al-Sukkiraya, where last Sunday's U.S. attack took place.