Iraqi TV airs report of purported Syrian soldier
Iraqi state television has aired a video showing what it said was a captured Syrian soldier confessing that he trained Iraqi militants to behead people and build car bombs to attack U.S. and Iraqi troops.
"I was trained on explosives, killing, spying, kidnapping ... and after one year I went to Iraq with Fady Abdullah [purportedly a Syrian intelligence colonel]," said the man, identified as 30-year-old Lt. Anas Ahmed Al-Essa.
In the video, aired Wednesday on the U.S.-funded channel, Al-Essa said he and others in his group were recruited to "cause chaos in Iraq ... to bar America from reaching Syria."
The video showed 10 Iraqis who said they had been recruited by Syrian intelligence officers, including a man who said the insurgents practised beheading on animals.
Later, al-Iraqiya TV aired more interviews with men it said were Sudanese and Egyptians who trained in Syria to carry out attacks in Iraq.
Syrian officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the claims, which could not be independently authenticated.
Al-Essa, in his 15-minute broadcast confession, said "at least 10 beheadings" were required before a member would be promoted to a group leader.
He said Syria provided all the weapons, explosives and equipment, as well as paying the men $1,500 US a month.
Baghdad has been accusing Syria for months of letting insurgents use the country as a base to launch attacks in Iraq. It also says Damascus has given a safe harbour to Saddam Hussein loyalists.
The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush has made the same charges.
The pressure on Syria was ramped up last week after a former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, was murdered and people both within Lebanon and internationally pointed the finger at Syria.
All of the men interviewed in the first video broadcast Wednesday were said to have been captured in the northern city of Mosul. The TV network didn't say when the interviews were made.