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Iraqi general: Syrian rebels kill 21 Syrian border guards, seize 2 border posts near Iraq
BAGHDAD (AP) Rebels attacked Syrian forces Thursday on two spots along the nation's porus border with Iraq, killing 21 soldiers and seizing control of one of the four major border posts, a senior Iraqi army official said.
The assaults against Syria's government unfolded throughout the day, putting the Iraqi army on high alert to prevent any violence from spilling across the border.
"We have security concerns because the border crossing now is out of the Syria government's control, and nobody can anticipate what will happen," said Iraqi Army Brig. General Qassim al-Dulaimi.
Al-Duliami said about a half-dozen rebels stormed the Syrian border crossing near the Iraqi town of Qaim on Thursday morning. He said the rebels forced the border guards from their posts but did not cross into Iraq.
Qaim is located about 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Baghdad. Mohammed Fathi, spokesman for the governor of Iraq's western Anbar province that includes Qaim, said the border crossing had already been closed to traffic because of the civil war.
Hours later, in the remote Sinjar mountain range, al-Dulaimi said rebels attacked a Syrian army outpost near the Iraqi border, killed 20 soldiers and their commander. The rebels then seized control of the outpost, al-Duliami said.
However, local Iraqi officials said two other major border crossings remained in control of the Syrian regime. Fathi said the largest port at al-Walid, which is also located near the Jordanian border and accounts or an estimated 90 percent of traffic between Iraq and Syria remained the regime's hands.
And an official in Iraq's northern Ninevah province said the border crossing near Rabiya was also still in Syrian government control.
The border between Iraq and Syria is 605 kilometers (363-miles) long.