Iraqi officials say Syrian rebels have crossed into Iraqi territory to kill 48 Syrian soldiers.
The Syrian troops had fled into Iraq last week to avoid being overrun by rebels who seized a nearby border post in their fight to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The March 4 attack targeted a convoy that was returning the troops back to Syria through Iraq’s Sunni-dominated Anbar Province.
Nine Iraqi soldiers also were killed in the attack.
Baghdad said it will resist any attempt to spread Syria’s bloody conflict into Iraq.
The violence in Anbar Province comes as Sunni Muslims in Iraq increasingly vent frustration over Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government and the perceived marginalization of their sect.
The conflict in neighboring Syria has raised sectarian tensions in Iraq and the wider Middle East.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP