Coordinating with the Zionist crusader against the glorious mujahedeen? Bashar, you cad.

Ronen Bergman, author of The Secret War with Iran, makes the claim in the Yediot Ahronoth newspaper, based on briefings with two senior American officials, one of whom he says until recently “held a very high ranking in the Pentagon”…

The Syrians were unwilling to be seen publicly bowing to US pressure to tackle the group, he says, but in the end gave the Americans the green light to do so themselves.

He claims the Syrian government told the Americans: “If you want to do this, do it. We are going to give you a corridor and carte blanche. We will not harm your troops.”

Mr Bergman maintains Syrian intelligence has been co-operating secretly with its US counterpart for some time in its war with al Qaeda.

How curious, Bergman goes on to note, that a raid in broad daylight would attract no resistance from Syrian anti-aircraft installations. Not sure I buy it — it seems just as likely that it’s opportunistic spin designed to drive a wedge between Assad and the jihadis he hosts — but I likes it. And it’s at least facially plausible that the regime would prefer to let the U.S. do its dirty work for it and play the victim rather than take on the fundies itself and end up in some sort of protracted, sporadic counterinsurgency of the sort Pakistan’s bogged down in.

More from the AP on the why-here-why-now aspect:

Scores of people are involved in the smuggling networks, officials say. But Iraqi police held special disdain for Abu Ghadiyah, a native of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul believed to be in his early 30s.

Last May, Abu Ghadiyah led a dozen gunmen across the border and attacked an Iraqi police station in Qaim, killing 12 policemen, Iraqi police Lt. Col. Falah al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Syrian border guards prevented an Iraqi patrol from pursuing the gunmen back into Syria, the police officer said.

Sunday’s raid was launched because of intelligence that Abu Ghadiyah was planning another attack inside Iraq, a senior U.S. official told The Associated Press, also speaking anonymously because the information is classified…

Syria has been unable to keep up the pressure, in part because its government needs support from local tribes and revenue from the bribes the smugglers pay to local officials, according to the Combating Terrorism Center study.

Here’s the perfunctory condemnation by the Iraqi government, duly qualified by its demand for Syria to act against terrorists using the country as a staging ground for attacks on Iraq. Exit question: If Syria cooperated in the raid, why was state media allowed to inflame the situation by reporting on the U.S. incursion? Granted, it exculpates the government by casting it as a victim of American aggression, but it also complicates future cooperation. The next time this happens, Syrians will expect/demand a reprisal. If it doesn’t come, Assad looks either weak or complicit, not something someone in his position can afford to be.