Pentagon silent on role in strike

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 29, 2008

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Defense Department’s official response to media reports that Special Forces whacked an al-Qaida in Iraq leader in Syria has been silence — even though the Iraqi government has confirmed the attack.

Here’s what Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman had to say Monday: "I have no comment for you; I decline to comment for you; I have no information for you on any alleged operations in Syria — you can pick any one of those three you like."

Meanwhile, the Syrian government has alleged that four U.S. helicopters attacked a civilian building, killing eight people.

The Defense Department has no reason to publicly confirm what happened because an official statement would mean nothing to the Arab world, said Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan think-tank in Washington.

Those who believe Syria will continue to do so, whatever the U.S. government says, Cordesman explained.

He also said he does not know if U.S. officials will ever acknowledge what happened.

"Who knows," he said. "Washington is scarcely leak-proof."

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