Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
Banning Facebook in Syria
BBC Arabic Radio
BY Louay Ismail
Part1 (Landis speaks Arabic)
The flow of foreign militants entering Iraq to fight for al Qaeda has fallen by half
Gen. Petraeus on Monday February 11 said: (Reuters)
The flow of foreign militants entering Iraq to fight for al Qaeda has fallen by half, General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, said on Monday.
Much of the fall in numbers was due to countries barring young men from flying to the Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo on one-way tickets, said Petraeus.
The U.S. government has long urged Syria to take steps to stop foreign fighters crossing its long land border with Iraq. Damascus says it has stepped up security on the frontier after the U.S. criticism.
"The flow of fighters is down, we think by about 50 percent," Petraeus told Reuters in an interview.
"It's a result not just of Syrian activity, although there has been some. It's the result of source countries making it tougher to fly as a military age male," he added.
Most of the fighters coming across the borders are believed to be affiliated with Sunni Islamist al Qaeda in Iraq. Al Qaeda's foot soldiers and suicide bombers attack U.S. forces, the Shi'ite-led government and groups they regard as un-Islamic.
Last month the U.S. military said captured al Qaeda documents showed 750 militants from 22 countries entered Iraq during the 12 months leading up to August 2007.
Petraeus did not say which countries were taking action at airports, but the documents said just under half the foreign fighters entering Iraq come from Saudi Arabia, followed by Libya, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia and Morocco.
It also said 90 percent of the al Qaeda suicide bombers were foreign. Most of al Qaeda in Iraq's leadership is foreign while the rank-and-file are Iraqi, the U.S. military says.
Petraeus said suicide bombers were still getting through, although he said it was difficult to assess numbers.