The U.S. has committed yet another “terrorist act,” said Syria’s Al Iqtissadiya in an editorial. In a “flagrant violation of Syrian sovereignty,” American forces flew by helicopter to Syria from Iraq this week and opened fire on a group of construction workers at a farm, killing eight civilians, including children. These martyrs join the long toll of “innocent civilians” slaughtered by American forces, which make no distinction between “a woman or an elderly sheikh or a small child dreaming of his bright future.” Syria immediately summoned the U.S. chargé d’affaires to demand an explanation. And it called on the Iraqi government to “shoulder its responsibilities” and investigate how Iraqi territory was used as the base of an attack on Syria.
There can be no possible justification for this “massacre,” said Waddah Abed Rabbo in Syria’s Al Watan. The U.S. says that it killed Abu Ghadiyah, a man it claims was a key figure in al Qaida in Iraq and who was in charge of smuggling jihadists from Syria into neighboring Iraq. That is a lie. The attack killed “a few workers and a woman.” How could such people “pose a threat against 100,000 heavily armed U.S. troops” in Iraq? Once again, in the name of combating terrorism, the U.S. has proved itself “to be the bloodiest terrorist in the world.”
The Bush administration simply can’t help itself, said Saudi Arabia’s Arab News. The Syrian raid is just another example of America’s “arrogant policy of rushing in with guns ablaze where it does not belong.” It is, in fact, remarkably similar to the raid on Pakistan last month, in which U.S. commandos from Afghanistan violated Pakistani sovereignty and killed civilians. In the Pakistan attack, too, the U.S. claimed to be pursuing al Qaida–affiliated militants. It’s pathetic, really. “Seven years of striding around the world as if he owned it, club in hand like some primeval caveman, President Bush has no more defeated al Qaida than when it first attacked.”
These cross-border attacks aren’t really intended to wipe out al Qaida, said Lionel Beehner in Britain’s Guardian. They are carried out “to strong-arm states like Syria into doing more to patrol their border”—in effect saying that if you don’t go after the militants, we will. Unfortunately, that tactic just doesn’t work. Violating a nation’s sovereignty makes the government resentful and less likely to be cooperative, and killing civilians simply alienates the local population. “The next president would be wise to drop this kind of warfare from his counterterrorism playbook.”