The Guardian 5 November, 2008

Syria: US raid kills eight

At a London press conference on October 27, Syriaís Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem condemned a cross-border raid by four US helicopters the previous day that killed at least eight civilians and wounded at least seven more. Al-Moallem called the raid an act of "criminal and terrorist aggression," and said Syria would defend itself "if they do it again."

The United States claimed the strike killed a leading al-Qaeda operative. But witnesses said it killed construction workers on a farm 12 kilometres from the Iraq border. Witnesses said two of the helicopters landed and troops emerged, firing.

Some US observers saw a link between the raid and the US presidential elections. On his blog, Informed Comment, University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole said he thinks that besides any military objective, the Bush administrationís raids into Syria and Pakistan are intended to help the Republicans in some way in the election.

Meanwhile, Pakistani officials said a missile fired from a US drone aircraft on October 27 killed up to 20 people in the border region of Waziristan. US and CIA military drones fly regular patrols over areas bordering Afghanistan, and reportedly carried out over a dozen air strikes in recent months. Since a September 3 helicopter raid killed over 20 Pakistanis including several civilians, sparking Pakistani protests, the US has stepped up the use of drones, launching 18 such attacks in the last three months.

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