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


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The Independent Online

The deaths of at least 48 Syrian soldiers in Iraq today have raised fears that Syria's civil war may be spreading across the border. The soldiers were killed in a co-ordinated ambush after seeking refuge in Iraq following clashes with rebels. Iraqi officials said they were being escorted back to Syria when they were killed near Akashat, by the border.

A senior military intelligence official said the attackers, who struck with roadside bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and guns, appeared to have been tipped off about the soldiers' movements. Al-Qa'ida militants have been linked to the attack as it is thought unlikely that Syrian rebels would have managed to cross into Iraq. At least seven Iraqi soldiers escorting the Syrians were also killed, officials said.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, warned that he feared a victory for rebels in the Syrian war could spark sectarian violence in his own country and Lebanon.