DAMASCUS (AFP) - Thousands of people marched in the streets of Damascus on Thursday to protest at a deadly American raid on a village near the Iraqi border which Syria has branded a barbaric act. Security was boosted around the area in central Damascus housing the US embassy which was closed on Thursday ahead of the demonstration because of the potential threat of violence. "Colonialists, listen, the people of Syria will never be brought to their knees," cried youths as they gathered in the city centre but some distance away from the US mission. Demonstrators, including civil servants and students, waved Syrian flags and banners reading "No to American terrorism" and "American democracy " the killing of civilians at Abu Kamal," the area targeted in Sunday's US raid. The protest wound down after several hours with no reports of violence. The US embassy announced on its website that it had closed for Thursday because of a possible demonstration and "therefore, American citizens should avoid these vicinities as well as the vicinity of the US embassy in Damascus." It said the decision was made "due to past demonstrations which resulted in violence and significant damage to US facilities and other embassies," adding that the American school in the Syrian capital would also be temporarily shut. In September 2006, a failed attack on the US embassy left four attackers and one Syrian security agent were killed. Damascus says eight civilians, including children, were killed in a helicopter assault on Sunday launched by US troops from Iraq on a Syrian village near the border. A US official in Washington has said the operation targeted a top militant who smuggled arms and fighters into Iraq but officially the State Department and Pentagon have declined to comment. On Tuesday, Syria protested to the UN Security Council over what it branded a barbaric action by the United States, with the official press calling it a "cold-blooded war crime". US commanders say Syria is the main transit point for foreign jihadists crossing into Iraq and have blamed Damascus for turning a blind eye to the problem. However, Iraq's national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie, one of the negotiators of a controversial security pact with Washington, said the deal would prevent the US military from launching attacks on Iraq's neighbours. "There is a very clear article in the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) draft that says the US cannot, should not, launch any operation from Iraqi soil against other countries," Rubaie said on Wednesday. Iraqi demonstrators also gathered in the Abu Rumaneh district near US embassy on Wednesday, chanting slogans and brandishing placards condemning the helicopter raid. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad said his government " which has already demanded the closure of the American school and the US cultural centre " is awaiting an explanation from Washington and Baghdad about the raid before deciding whether to take further retaliatory steps. Syria and the United States have long had a rocky relationship. In 2004, Washington imposed sanctions against Syria, accusing it of helping insurgents in Iraq and of the Shiite Hezbollah group in Lebanon. It recalled its ambassador to Damascus after the 2005 assassination in Beirut of Lebanon's former premier Rafiq Hariri, reducing US diplomatic representation to charge d'affaires level.