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Weapons flowing from Iraqi Sunnis to Syria's rebels?

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(Read caption) Syrian rebels aim during a weapons training exercise outside Idlib, Syria, in February.

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An intriguing, but hardly surprising, report from CNN in Iraq about Sunni tribal support for rebel fighters in Syria is a reminder of the ways in which Syria's civil war could spread, and of the strange bedfellows created by a year of upheaval and change in the region.

The CNN report contains an interview with a man described as tribal leader of the Dulaim, one of the largest tribes in Iraq whose members also spread into Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Members of the overwhelmingly Sunni Arab tribe formed the backbone of the fight against the US occupation of Iraq, and the rise of the country's Shiite-dominated government during the height of the war in the country.

In the middle of the last decade, arms and fighters flowed across the Syrian border to aid Iraq's Sunni insurgents, inspired by a combination of tribal loyalty and religious piety. Now, the sheikh tells CNN, the Iraqi Dulaim are returning the favor.

"You've all seen what the Syrian government is doing. It's time for us to return our debt. It's our duty."

What debt? He said Syrian members of the Dulaim came to fight along with Iraqis against the US-led assaults on Fallujah in 2004. In April and November of that year, two separate attacks on the Sunni insurgent stronghold left about 90 coalition troops dead, most American, and over 1,500 residents and fighters dead.


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