The Syrian government has ordered that an American school and a U.S. cultural center in Damascus be shut down in response to a deadly attack by U.S. Special Operations forces near the Syrian border with Iraq.
The decision was made at a Cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Naji Otari. Ministers of education and culture were instructed to implement the move, said the agency, SANA.
The decision comes two days after Syria said U.S. troops in four helicopters attacked a building inside Syria and near the border with Iraq and killed eight people.
It was unclear whether a top operative of Al Qaeda in Iraq — the target of the attack — was killed, U.S. officials told FOX News.
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Outside the "American School" in Damascus' upscale Maliki neighborhood, activities seemed normal. Drivers waited outside the building to pick up the foreign, mostly Arab pupils as they left for home shortly before sunset.
Several students and a foreign teacher said they were not aware of the closure order and declined to comment further. There was no sign of extraordinary security, with the normal contingent of three Syrian policemen standing guard near the gate.
Monana Sabban, the mother of a first grader at the school, told The Associated Press over the phone that the students were told only that the school staff would meet later Tuesday and inform parents by telephone of any new developments.
The school and the cultural center, which is linked to the U.S. embassy, cater to the small American community in the Syrian capital and other foreign residents.
Syria said U.S. troops in four helicopters on Sunday attacked a building inside Syria, near the border with Iraq, and killed eight people.
The Syrian Cabinet condemned the raid Tuesday, calling it a "barbaric" act.
"This brutal crime represents a climax of state terrorism exercised by the U.S. administration," said a Cabinet statement. It accused the United States of violating the U.N. charter, international law and international legitimacy, according to SANA.
The decision to close the American school and cultural center was made at a Cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Naji Otari. Ministers of education and culture were instructed to implement the move, SANA said.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters Tuesday that he had heard about the order, but he declined to comment further because the U.S. had not been officially notified by the Syrian government.
Wood said Syria has taken "steps in the right direction" about stopping foreign fighters from moving into Iraq, but there is more they must do, including better screening of people coming into the Damascus airport and better patrolling of borders.
"The Syrians know what they need to do. We want to see those things happen," Wood said.
U.S.-Syrian relations plummeted after the February 2005 assassination in neighboring Lebanon of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, for which many blamed Damascus.
Washington pulled out its ambassador and clamped a diplomatic boycott on Syria, accusing it of destabilizing Lebanon, sending insurgents to Iraq and supporting militant anti-Israel groups Hezbollah and Hamas.
Syria, which has for years been on a State Department list of nations that it says support terrorism, denies involvement in Hariri's assassination and calls the groups it supports legitimate resistance movements.
Also Tuesday, Syria demanded the U.N. Security Council to condemn the attack and take action against the U.S.
Syria "expects the Security Council and United Nations members to shoulder their responsibilities to prevent such a dangerous violation in the future and hold the aggressor responsible," said the government's letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to SANA.
In another move reflecting Syria's objection to the U.S. raid and apparently also to Baghdad's lack of a stronger response to it, the Syrian government postponed a meeting of the joint Iraqi-Syrian Supreme Committee that was scheduled to convene in Baghdad on Nov. 12.
Iraq has said it doesn't approve of the raid into Syria even if the U.S. claims such operations are legitimate.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Iraq doesn't want its territory used for attacks in neighboring nations, but he also urged Syria to crack down on "organizations" operating on its territory that have the intention of harming Iraq.
FOX News' Jennifer Griffin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.