May 25, 2013
Syrian army, rebel clashes bring conflict to Iraq doorstep
Clashes between the Syrian army and rebels at a border post brought the civil war close to neighbouring Iraq, where troops fired warning shots into the air, residents, officials and a Reuters reporter said.
Insurgents seized control of half of the northeastern Syrian town of Yaarabiya, including a border post with Iraq, in a battle with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad on Friday and early Saturday, the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said.
The fighting on Iraq's doorstep shows how Syria's near-two-year conflict could spill over its borders, threatening to drag in neighbouring countries and further destabilise the region.
Iraqi troops on the other side of the border from Yaarabiya fired warning shots, residents, local officials and a Reuters reporter said.
On Friday, a Scud missile fired from Syrian territory landed near a village opposite Yaarabiya, causing no damage but terrifying locals, the mayor of the town of Telefar, near the Rabia crossing, said.
A Syrian rebel commander told pan-Arab satellite television channel al-Arabiya the Iraqi army fired across the border at Syrian rebels following the Scud incident, but residents and Iraqi military sources denied the report.
Rebel commander Brigadier Selim Idris also told al-Arabiya some Syrian army soldiers fled into Iraq after rebels took the crossing, the second post on the Iraq border to fall into rebel hands.
A medical source from a hospital in Telafar said one corpse and four wounded had been delivered there, identifying them as Syrians, probably from the regular army.