Rice won't rule out attack on Syria

Oct. 19, 2005 at 3:41 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Wednesday would not rule out military action as an option for dealing with Iran's and Syria's meddling in Iraq.

She also made no promises to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the White House would seek congressional approval before directing a military attack on either of those countries.

"I'm not going to get into what the president's options might be. But the course on which we are now launched is a diplomatic course vis-a-vis Syria," Rice said.

Under further questioning, she went even further to suggest military action -- without congressional authorization -- is a possibility.

"I don't want to try and circumscribe presidential war powers, and I think you'll understand fully that the president retains those powers in the war on terrorism and in the war in Iraq," she said.

Syria is believed to be the major way station through which foreign fighters are entering Iraq. Rice said "suspicious young men" are regularly waved through Damascus International Airport.

Syria is also believed to be home to many Iraqi Ba'athists who fled the invasion and who are funding and coordinating Sunni insurgent activity.

The Pentagon and White House have not outrightly blamed the Syrian government for the insurgent flow but have said it would like the government to do more to stop illegal border traffic and to crack down on insurgents in Syria.

U.S. forces are engaged in serious fighting around al Qaim, and Iraqi border town, and through the Euphrates River valley that connects fighters from the border down to Baghdad.

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