Al-Qaeda claims killing Syrian troops in Iraq
An al-Qaeda affiliated group has claimed responsibility for carrying out an ambush that killed 48 Syrian soldiers and nine Iraq guards state employees in Iraq's Anbar province last week, Aljazeera reported.
In a statement posted online on Monday, the Islamic State of Iraq, al-Qaeda's wing in Iraq, said the presence of Syrian government forces in Iraq proved collusion between the Shia-led government in Baghdad and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"Military detachments succeeded in annihilating an entire column of the Safavid army," the group said referring to the dynasty that ruled Shia Iran from the 16th to 18th centuries.
Tehran is the closest regional ally of Assad, whose Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shia Islam.
"The lions of the desert and the men entrusted with difficult missions laid ambushes on the road leading to the crossing," the group said.
Last week, gunmen attacked a convoy of Syrians who had fled Yaarabiya across the border from Iraq to escape advancing Syrian rebels.
The Syrians, some of them wounded, were being escorted back home by Iraqi guards through the western province of Anbar, Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland.
Iraq's defence ministry had earlier blamed the attack on Syrian armed groups it said had infiltrated the country.