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Pleas For Syria To Tighten Border

An Iraqi soldier in a border town near Syria inspects the remains of a building destroyed during Operation Spear.
AP
On a hill overlooking Iraq in the bleak Syrian desert, government officials on Monday pointed out new security measures including taller sand berms that they've taken to keep foreign fighters from crossing into Iraq.

But Western diplomats say Syria still could do more. And, the diplomats added, the Syrians need both better intelligence and better night-vision equipment to keep insurgents from infiltrating into Iraq after dark.

The Syrian authorities gave journalists the rare tour of border areas Monday to highlight improvements in security measures as U.S. forces on the other side waged the latest offensives against insurgents believed to have entered from Syria.

Damascus is under intense pressure from Washington and Baghdad to tighten control of its porous border.

A giant picture of President Bashar Assad looked over the bleak desert landscape as several hundred trucks waited to cross into Iraq at Tanaf, one of the main posts along the 360-mile frontier with Iraq.

On a hill nearby overlooking Iraq, a Syrian border officer pointed to the tall sand barrier that runs along the border, saying the government has increased the height of such berms to 12 feet as a measure against infiltrators and smugglers.

The officer, who would not give his name because of the sensitivity of the border issue, said the Syrian government has deployed 7,000 troops along the border.