Syrian Sources: Reports of Iraqi Army Deployment at Borders Baseless
Well-informed Syrian sources have denied a report by the Sunday Times alleging that units of the Iraqi army have been deployed on the border with Syria in anticipation of an Israeli attack on its neighbor.
The English paper had claimed that 32,000 Iraqi troops were stationed in the area after a secret visit by Qussai Saddam Hussein, the president’s son, to Damascus.
The sources charged that the report was meant to bring about tension in the region and incite the new US administration into taking a hostile stand against Syria.
The paper based its report last Wednesday on information divulged by an Israeli intelligence officer, and a study by a Tel Aviv University professor concluding that Iraq and Syria have never been so close since 1973 when Iraq sent its troops to fight on Syria’s side in the October War that year.
The paper also said that the Syrian army and the Israeli armor division 36 are on full alert pending the Israeli prime ministerial elections on Tuesday.
Arabic press reports have quoted British defense sources as saying they are worried that the Israeli air force might bombard Iraqi missiles batteries reportedly stationed at the border with Syria for weeks.
Western media have depicted the alleged Iraqi deployment as a declaration of war, especially after Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan warned of attacking Israel in an interview with Rafedain newspaper, owned by President Saddam’s elder son, Uday.
Meanwhile, the Syrian sources linked between the “media war” against their country and the arrival of US army units in Israel to take part in joint military drills. They also made a link between the Sunday Times’ report and questions raised by American strategists on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s “Strategic Course,” the term given by the former US administration to policies of Assad after his recent visit to Tehran and the statements he issued there.
According to the sources, the US believes that the young leader is trying to introduce hazardous strategic changes in the region and that he must be stopped.