- DAMASCUS (AFP) - Washington
exaggerated numbers of foreign fighters in Iraq in order to justify the
recent assault on Fallujah, an official Syrian daily claimed Thursday.
- "The question of foreign fighters crossing Iraqi
(borders) has been exaggerated, given that only 24 of the 1,000 insurgents
captured in Fallujah are foreign," Ath-Thawra said.
- A massive US-led assault on the city began 10 days ago
with the express aim of wresting control of the city from foreign fighters,
believed to be led by Jordanian-born militant and Al-Qaeda frontman in
Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and other insurgents.
- Washington has repeatedly accused Syria and Iran of allowing
foreign fighters to cross their borders with Iraq to join insurgents fighting
US-led forces there.
- "The destruction of Fallujah is a message sent to
other Iraqi cities, threatening them with the same fate if they rebel against
the (American) occupation and hinder plans made for the Americanisation
of Iraq," the paper said.
- The United States must "prove that Zarqawi is not
a ghost who serves to cover the intentions of the American invasion, as
with the question of weapons of mass destruction which was exaggerated
in order to launch the Iraq war" in March 2003.
- Washington slapped unilateral sanctions on Damascus in
May, claiming it was supporting terrorism and seeking to develop weapons
of mass destruction, charges denied by Syria.
- Syria in September undertook to tighten up its 600-kilometre
(400-mile) border with Iraq, which was closed as part of a state of emergency
declared in Iraq on November 7.