Qaeda in Iraq claims responsibility for Syrian casualties
A Syrian rebel aims his weapon during clashes with government forces in the streets near Aleppo international airport in northern Syria on Monday (Photo: AFP/Stephen J. Boitano) - Picture used for illustrative purposes -
An al-Qaeda group claimed responsibility on Monday for last week's killing of 48 Syrian soldiers and nine Iraqi guards in western Iraq.
According to the US-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant internet sites, al-Qaeda's franchise in Iraq issued a statement on jihadist forums claiming responsibility for last Monday's deadly attack.
Reports say the Syrian troops had sought refuge in northern Iraq and were being escorted back, when they were ambushed in the Ratba desert near Iraq's western Anbar province.
The group claims it intercepted the convoy while the Syrian troops were on their way to camps secretly provided by the Iraqi government.
Observers said the ambush suggested possible coordination between al-Qaeda's Iraq branch and its ideological allies in Syria who are fighting on the side of the rebels.