Blair urges Syria to stop militants crossing into Iraq

09 December 2003
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on 9 December sent a message to Syrian President Asad urging him to stop militants crossing the Syrian border into Iraq. The message was delivered by the UK Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East, Baroness Elizabeth Symons, who is on a short trip to the region. After meeting Asad, Symons said that the two had discussed the problems that Syria and the US-led coalition face at present, and had agreed that it was important for all countries in the region to collaborate in dealing with the threat of international terrorism. 'We now have the mutual interest of seeing that Iraq becomes a stable country as quickly as possible - we do not want to see an extremist state - We want to see Iraq being a good neighbour for Syria,' she said.

The message from Blair was delivered hours after the London daily Guardian published an article, citing a former US CIA official, which said that US forces are already operating illegally in eastern Syria. 'US special forces teams are already behind the lines inside Syria attempting to kill foreign jihadists before they cross the border [into Iraq], and a group focused on the 'neutralisation' of guerrilla leaders is being set up,' the report said.

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