CIA starts arming Syrian rebels overtly
In the past two weeks the US has reportedly begun delivering arms to militants fighting the Syrian government. Washington expects the CIA to monitor the delivery so that the aid does not end up in the hands of Al-Qaeda associates.
According to the Washington Post report, after months of promises to provide aid to Syrian rebels in an ‘official’ manner, Washington has finally sanctioned open delivery of arms and munitions to anti-Assad forces - despite fears that some of the weapons could end up in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists.
Already back in April the US Secretary of State John Kerry promised that official ‘nonlethal’ aid would start flowing “in a matter of weeks.”
In May the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations had passed a bill that would allow, if signed, the Obama administration to supply arms to Syrian opposition. However, in reality it took months before the Obama administration made up its mind.
The biggest hindrance for Washington to aid Syrian rebels has
always been the ever growing presence of Al-Qaeda jihadists among rebel ranks.
In the end the decision was made at a time when President Barack Obama was considering missile strikes on sovereign Syrian state pursuing the aim of ousting President Bashar Assad.
So far there has been no official comment from the CIA.
The lethal aid is primarily being channeled to fighters subordinate to General Salim Idriss, the commander of the Supreme Military Council of the rebel forces who defected from the Syrian Army last year. This faction of dissociated armed opposition groups is considered to be smaller evil if compared to other jihadist militant units with proven links to internationally recognized terrorist organizations, such as Al-Nusra Front, which is associated with the Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda.
The CIA controls and tracks the delivery of reportedly light weapons and other munitions via countries bordering Syria, such as Turkey and Jordan. The US State Department has its own separate program of delivering vehicles and other non-lethal gear, such as communication equipment, advanced combat medical kits and high-calorie food packets to the Syrian opposition forces using the same supply channels.
“The Supreme Military Council is receiving so little support that any support we receive is a relief,” Khaled Saleh, a spokesman for the Syrian Opposition Coalition, is reported as saying.
Two-and-a-half years of ongoing bloodshed in Syria has not given a decisive advantage to either side of the conflict. In this situation American aid could give the Syrian armed rebel forces an upper hand over the government troops on the battlefield. Also, the US officials admit, the weapons supply should cheer up the rebel troops that have been suffering massive losses lately.
“They see their leadership is having some impact,” told the Washington Post the State Department’s senior adviser on assistance to Syria Mark S. Ward, responsible for coordination of nonlethal aid delivery to the Syrian rebels from Turkey.