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Flashback Unsafe Haven

October 27, 2008

“[The Americans] don't bomb us. It is only for show, as if to say, watch out, we're coming for you.”
Sheikh Ratha Baruth Dulaimi, Syrian tribal leader (May 2005)

The commando raid that appears to have killed a high value terrorist, among others, inside Syria has left observers wondering why the U.S. picked this particular moment to mount its first ever strike across the Iraqi-Syrian border. Prior to the strike, the U.S. had been dialing down the anti-Syrian rhetoric, and praising the country's efforts to stem the flow of insurgents into Iraq.

While Washington and Damascus trade charges on the incident, we've gone to the FRONTLINE/World archives for a bit of background on the remote border region where the raid occurred, and the story behind it.

In 2005, our correspondent Kate Seelye and producer Steve Talbot visited the region to try to find out what if anything Syria was doing at the time in response to U.S. pressure to seal off the border. In this excerpt from their report, Seelye gets a look, through barbed wire, at the embattled Marine outpost on the Iraq side, and talks with self-described "former" insurgents on the Syrian side.

Note: You can see the full report on Kate Seelye's 2005 journey, on this FRONTLINE/World webpage. And you can watch her current report, called Syria: Beyond the Axis of Evil, online as well.

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