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Syria Protests Deadly Helicopter Raid to UN Chief

Syria has protested to the United Nations about a deadly helicopter raid in the country's east that Damascus blames on U.S. forces.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released Tuesday, Syria urges U.N. member states to prevent a repeat of Sunday's attack, calling it a serious violation of Syria's sovereignty.

Syria's letter also says the U.N. Security Council should take action against those responsible for the raid for killing eight Syrian civilians, including children. The identity of the casualties has not been independently verified.

The Bush administration has refused to confirm or deny carrying out the attack. But, U.S. officials, speaking anonymously, say the operation appears to have killed an al-Qaida leader, Abu Ghadiyah, who smuggled weapons and foreign fighters into Iraq.

Syria's government ordered the closure of an American school and a U.S. cultural center in Damascus today in apparent retaliation for the helicopter assault.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh criticized the attack Tuesday, saying his country "rejects" the operation and does not want its territory to be used for attacks on neighboring countries.

Al-Dabbagh also called on Damascus to crack down on insurgents who use Syria as a base to train and launch attacks on Iraq. Baghdad has said that Sunday's helicopter raid targeted such an area.

Syria expressed apparent displeasure with Iraq's reaction, postponing a meeting of Syrian and Iraqi officials planned for November in Baghdad.

Syria has said U.S. soldiers on four helicopters crossed into eastern Syria Sunday and fired on a building under construction near its border with Iraq.

China and Lebanon issued statements today condemning the attack as a violation of Syria's sovereignty

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.