Special forces carried out a secret raid in Syrian territory Sunday to kill an Iraqi militant, the US acknowledged yesterday. About two dozen American commandos swooped into a village on the Iraq-Syria border and fought a brief gun battle. While Syria condemned the raid as "terrorist aggression," top American officials told the New York Times that the Bush administration was determined to prosecute the war in sovereign nations even without their consent.
The raid targeted a leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq who smuggled foreign operatives over the border. As with similar raids in Pakistan, the administration cited self-defense—rather than preemption, the rationale for the invasion of Iraq—to justify its cross-border operations. The raid has left the Iraqi government in a delicate position: despite its support for the American military, it remains friendly with Syria, home to more than a million Iraqi refugees.