Col. Greg Reilly of the 3rd squadron of the 3rd Armoured Cavalry, who is at Sinjar, patrolling the Syria-Iraq border, says the flow of foreign fighters from Syria has stopped.
The astonishing claim flies in the face of cries from Washington that Syria is doing nothing to stop militants crossing into Iraq.
Col. Reilly says he has stopped 130 smugglers in the area in the past nine months, but says “we did not find one foreign fighter.”
He also pours scorn on suggestions that money to support the insurgency is pouring across the frontier: “If there was a strong relationship, we’d have found money caches or they would have tried to divert us from the border. That has not happened.”
His claims seem to support a report from American journalist Kevin Sites, who was on the Syrian side of the border last week. He said: “The Syrian Army says it’s done a lot to beef up security on the border after American and Iraqi complaints, including the creation of a defensive sand berm and increasing the number of border outposts to 557, each with eight to ten soldiers on guard.”
And in the past few weeks, even Washington has been forced to concede that things are changing in the desert:
“The pouring of fighters on the Syrian border has declined now,” said Henry Crampton, a U.S. State Department official. “And I believe the Syrians actually took certain measures in that regard, but they can do more.”
When will the White House start singing a new song? These were George W. Bush’s words four weeks ago: “there’s suiciders coming in from Syria into Iraq”.