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Much of the criticism of Syria appears to be political. The foreign fighters issue has been a favorite Washington pressure point, even though U.S. military and intelligence officials in Iraq have long played down Syria's role. The insurgency, they have said, is overwhelmingly Iraqi. The foreign infiltrators have their choice of Iraq's six international borders, not just the frontier with Syria.
Military analysts say there are several U.S. incentives for blaming Syria. Depicting Iraq as a haven for foreign terrorists validates President Bush's claims that Iraq is the center of the global war on terrorism. And branding the insurgency as foreign-inspired hides the fact that many Iraqis actively oppose the U.S.-led invasion.