The “New York Times” newspaper uncovered Thursday that “a number of Central Intelligence Agency officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey to help allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government.”
According to American officials and Arab intelligence officers, “the weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some anti-tank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”
“The CIA officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks,” the paper reported .
“This is to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups,” one senior American official claimed.
By helping to vet rebel groups, American intelligence operatives in Turkey hope to learn more about a growing, changing opposition network inside of Syria and to establish new ties. “CIA officers are there and they are trying to make new sources and recruit people,” said one Arab intelligence official who is briefed regularly by American counterparts.
Moreover, the paper added that “American officials and retired CIA officials said the administration was also weighing additional assistance to rebels, like providing satellite imagery and other detailed intelligence on Syrian troop locations and movements.”
“The administration is also considering whether to help the opposition set up a rudimentary intelligence service. But no decisions have been made on those measures or
But senior administration officials have underscored in recent days that they are not actively considering military options. “Anything at this point vis-à-vis Syria would be hypothetical in the extreme,” General Dempsey told reporters this month.
“What has changed since March is an influx of weapons and ammunition to the rebels. The increasingly,” “NYT” mentioned.
It further quoted Syrian rebels as saying: “Last month, Turkish Army vehicles delivered antitank weaponry to the border, where it was then smuggled into Syria.”
“The United States,” these activists said, “was consulted about these weapons transfers.”