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Page last updated at 18:53 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Syrians stage mass anti-US rally

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People at the anti-US demonstration in Syria

Thousands of people have marched through Damascus in protest at an alleged US raid on a village that Syria says killed eight people.

Many at the government-backed demonstration carried banners, shouted anti-US slogans and waved pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Riot police surrounded the US embassy in Damascus, which American officials closed blaming security fears.

The Syrian government has demanded that Washington apologise for the incident.

The US state department and the White House have refused to confirm the alleged attack.

Slogans

The protesters, including many civil servants and students, converged on the central Youssef al-Azmi square.

Closing the Damascus embassy on Thursday, American officials cited "violence and significant damage to US facilities and other embassies" in past demonstrations.

Officials warned US citizens to avoid the area and an American school was also shut temporarily.

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BBC correspondent Paul Wood at the scene of the alleged US air assault

Damascus has threatened to cut off co-operation on Iraqi border security if the US carries out any more raids on Syrian territory.

Unnamed US officials said last Sunday's raid killed Iraqi al-Qaeda chief Abu Ghadiya. They said he had smuggled thousands of fighters across the border into Iraq.

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Syria has labelled those claims "totally unjustified" and said it was doing all it could to stem any traffic of foreign fighters across the long and porous border.

Iraq, which has also condemned the alleged strikes, said it would share the results of its own investigation into the incident near Abu Kamal.

Five of those killed last Sunday were from the same family, and the BBC's Paul Wood spoke to a woman who lost her husband and four sons in the incident.

She said all the men were working on the house that was in the compound where the Americans landed, and denied any link between them and al-Qaeda.

If confirmed, the strike - some eight kilometres (five miles) north of Iraq's border with Syria - would be the first American attack in Syria since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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SEE ALSO
Profile: Abu Ghadiya
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Syria raid 'killed major target'
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Syria hits out at 'terrorist' US
28 Oct 08 |  Middle East
Syrian witness reacts to US raid
27 Oct 08 |  Middle East
What could lie behind Syria raid?
26 Oct 08 |  Middle East
Country profile: Syria
01 Oct 08 |  Country profiles


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