BAGHDAD // Al Qaeda's branch in Iraq claimed responsibility yesterday for the killing last week of 48 Syrian soldiers and nine Iraqi guards in western Anbar province.
The brazen assault suggests possible coordination between the terror network's Iraq affiliate and its ideological allies in Syria who are fighting on the side of the rebels.
The Syrian troops had sought refuge in Iraq during recent clashes that ended with the rebels taking over a border crossing along Iraq's northern province of Ninevah. The troops were being escorted back to Syria when they were ambushed.
Islamic State of Iraq fighters were able to destroy a column of "the Safavid army with its associated vehicles" carrying "members of the Nusairi army and Syrian regime 'shabiha'," said a statement.
Safavid is a word implying Shiites are under Iranian control, while Nusairi is a derogatory term for Alawites, the sect to which the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, belongs, and shabiha is a name used for pro-regime militia forces.
* AP, AFP