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Fears of war crossing borders as 48 Syrian soldiers killed in Iraq

Published on 05 March 2013, by M. Tomazy.

 Attackers killed more than 50 Iraqi and Syrian soldiers in an ambush on Iraqi soil yesterday, stoking fears that the fighting in Syria could spill over the 600-kilometre border and provoke sectarian violence in Iraq.

A total of 48 Syrian soldiers and nine Iraqis died when their convoy of 32 vehicles was attacked by gunmen using homemade bombs, mortars and heavy artillery as they drove towards a border crossing with Syria in Iraq’s western Anbar province.

The Syrian soldiers, who numbered 65 in total, had fled into Iraq on March 2, according to a security official in Anbar.

They had escaped through the border town of Yaaroubia – which straddles the Iraq-Syria border near the northern city of Mosul – after heavy fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces on the Syrian side.

Although there has long been fighting in Syria in the areas close to the Iraqi border, particularly in the Syrian town of Abu Kamal, this is the clearest realisation yet of a pervasive nightmare among Iraqis that the Syrian fighting will spread to their fragile country and even reignite their civil war.