With suicide bombers continuing to strike targets around Iraq, David Satterfield, the State Department's point man for Iraq, pointed the finger directly at Syria during a Washington lunch speech today, reports U.S. News senior writer Kevin Whitelaw. Satterfield estimated that 85 to 90 percent of the suicide bombers in Iraq are foreigners. While the mix of countries has changed over time, one thing has remained steady.
"Eighty-five to 90 percent of all suicide bombers come across one border--Syria," he said. Iraqi officials have offered similar estimates before, but the on-the-record remarks by a senior U.S. official continue to ratchet up the diplomatic pressure against Syria.
Satterfield said that these suicide bombers arrive at the Damascus airport, travel through Syria, and cross the long and sparsely guarded border into Iraq. He added that the bulk of the blame should be placed on Syria.
"We're not asking them to do a perfect job," he said. "They are being asked to do a better job."
At the same time, he stressed that while the insurgents receive key external support, including financing, the impetus for the ongoing violence comes from Iraqis, even though foreign jihadists constitute the bulk of the suicide bombers themselves.
"This is primarily an internal issue," he added. "This is not driven from outside."
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