Battling Iraq's insurgency -- in Syria

Will the U.S. take military action against the Baath-friendly nation across the border?

Published May 24, 2005 10:40PM (EDT)

Is the junior rogue state about to be upgraded to full membership in the Axis of Evil? The New York Times reported Tuesday that Syria has halted military and intelligence cooperation with the United States "in a sign of growing strains" between the two nations over the insurgency in Iraq:

"Bush administration officials said Syria's stance has prompted intense debate at high levels in the administration about new steps that might be taken against the Syrian government. The officials said the options included possible military, diplomatic or economic action. But senior Pentagon and military officials cautioned Monday that if any military action was eventually ordered, it was likely to be limited to insurgent movements along the border.

"American military officers in Baghdad and intelligence analysts in Washington say militant cells inside Iraq draw on 'unlimited money' from an underground financial network run by former Baath Party leaders and relatives of Mr. Hussein, many of whom they say found safe haven to live and operate in Syria. Those officials say Damascus has done very little in its banking system to stop the financing, nor has it seized former Iraqi Baathists identified by the United States as organizing and financing the insurgency."

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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