Syria has been the scene of unrest since March 2011. Because the presence of armed groups who are supported, financed and armed by Washington, Tel Aviv, Ankara, London, Paris, Berlin and certain Arab regimes.
After all media reports on the escalated presence of al-Qaeda in Syria, US admitted that the group has hundreds of operatives on the ground.
According to US intelligence officials, al Qaeda has advanced beyond isolated pockets of activity in Syria and now is building a network of well-organized cells. “We fear the terrorists could be on the verge of establishing an Iraq-like foothold that would be hard to defeat if rebels eventually oust President Bashar al-Assad,” the officials warned.
“At least a couple of hundred al Qaeda-linked militants are already operating in Syria, and their ranks are growing as foreign fighters stream into the Arab country daily,” they said.
In parallel, current and former US intelligence officials feared that “the units are spreading from city to city, with veterans of the Iraq insurgency employing their expertise in bomb-building to carry out more than two dozen attacks so far. Others are using their experience in coordinating small units of fighters in Afghanistan to win new followers.”
“It all could point to a widening danger posed by extremists who have joined rebels fighting al-Assad government,” the US officials stated and pointed out and confessed that “the extremists are ostensibly on the same side as Washington by opposing al-Assad.”
Officials described the intelligence on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss confidential internal talks among intelligence and administration officials.
“Once operating as disparate, disconnected units, the al-Qaeda cells are now communicating and sometimes cooperating on missions, with a command-and-control structure evolving to match more sophisticated operations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan,” US officials said.
“There is a larger group of foreign fighters … who are either in or headed to Syria,” the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, Daniel Benjamin, told reporters recently.
“The extremists come with weapons and money,” said Murhaf Jouejati, a professor at the National Defense University and a member of the opposition “Syrian National Council”.
“Their weapons include mortars, anti-tank weapons and rocket propelled grenades, many left over from old Iraqi army stockpiles,” he said.