They're sending money, medical supplies and even a makeshift border patrol.

In a show of brotherly affection, residents of an Iraqi city near the Syrian border have pledged their allegiance to Syria's rebel forces. The residents of Al-Qaem told AFP that they owe Syria one for their support during the 2005 U.S. invasion. Said one town member:

"The brothers in Syria stood with the Iraqis ... when U.S. forces surrounded us in 2005, and opened their border and their hearts to us ... They delivered us everything we needed – food, medicine, men and weapons ... from several places in Syria, so we must pay back to them the gratitude and charity in their ordeal."

Their ties are more than political; several families in the 137,000-person city have relatives (blood or otherwise) in Syria. Families have been donating food, medical supplies and money. "I sent $2,000 so far to help injured people in Syria," tribal elder Abu Mujahid Al Luhaibi told AFP. "We send money to the families that we know through intermediaries."

An Al-Qaem-based group (called the Army of Free Iraqis) has also promised to patrol the border "searching with volunteers for any strange or suspicious movements by the Iraqi government towards assisting the Syrian government."

According to the AFP, "the group's leader, Abu Yasser, said 'we will go immediately to fight in Syria if it is shown that the Iraqi government sends fighters to fight with the regime there.'"





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