Syria to Let US Screen Iraqi Refugees

Move clears way for some to come to America
By Asta Hostetter,  Newser User
Posted Nov 9, 2007 9:30 AM CST
Iraqi refugees living in Syria head back to their home country at the al-Tanaf border crossing between Syria and Iraq, in Syria Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007. Syria is making it easier for some refugees to...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Syria, home to more than 1 million refugees from Iraq, will for the first time allow US officials into the country to clear the way for their possible resettlement in America, the AP reports. The US, under criticism for not doing more to ease the growing refugee crisis in the region, has promised to begin taking in 1,000 a month, Reuters reports.

Syria's decision to grant visas to US officials is a diplomatic breakthrough in the strained relations between the nations, especially given that Washington accuses Damascus of supporting terrorism. In addition to the refugees in Syria, another million or more are in Jordan, Egypt, and Iran. The US has admitted a total of 1,608 Iraqi refugees in the last year.