Sources in Cairo have told Al Bawaba.com that the arrival of Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to attend the Arab Foreign Ministers' meeting was coordinated with Washington. Sabri, clad in Arab costume, left Baghdad aboard a car on Saturday and got to Syria early Sunday after traveling hundreds kilometers on dangerous and unsafe roads.
The sources mentioned the Sunday incident near the Syrian-Iraqi border as an example for this information. On Sunday morning, just hours after Sabri arrived in Syria, U.S. and British warplanes raided a Syrian passenger bus carrying workers from Iraq back to Syria. Five Syrian civilians were killed instantly.
According to the sources, Cairo has accepted US guarantees for the security of Sabri during his stay in Egypt. To support this claim, the Syrian analyst Shaaban Abud was quoted Monday saying that the visit by Sabri shows Baghdad's self-confidence, since if the Iraqis were not confident that a senior political personality like Sabri would not be able to return to the Iraqi capital, they would have never allowed him to leave the country in the first place.
Meanwhile, Syria summoned the U.S. and British ambassadors to lodge an official protest on the missile attack. An official Syrian source said Monday "this criminal act resulted in the killing of five Syrian civilians and the injury of others."
He said the air strike was in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention related to the protection of civilians during war time and that Syria preserves the right to request compensation in line with international laws.
A medical source in the Douma hospital near Damascus said the bodies of the five slain Syrians were handed to their families and three of the wounded were being treated. The source said the other injured civilians received medical treatment in the Syrian medical center in the Tanaf region near the Syrian-Iraqi border.
One of the wounded said they were surprised by the coalition air attack which occurred when the bus stopped to allow the passengers have some rest. He said the coalition jets dropped cluster bombs on them.
Syrian Information Minister Adnan Omran said Sunday's air attack indicated that shelling was being focused on civilian cars and targets. "This is a dangerous matter and refutes claims that they only hit military targets," Omran said. "I don't know how a bus carrying people returning home and escaping bombardment and destruction can be mistaken as a military target. This is a civilian target. This is an example. There are many other targets such as houses, restaurants, gas stations and schools on the border that were damaged or destroyed." (Albawaba.com)
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