Members of the Free Syrian Army walk as they carry RPGs at Bab Al Hawa in outskirts of Idlib, near the Syrian-Turkey border (Reuters / Str)
American secret service operatives are distributing illegal assault rifles, anti-tank rocket launchers and other ammunition to Syrian opposition, the New York Times reports. But due to some rebels’ links to Al Qaeda, the CIA’s task is precarious.
The paper reports that for weeks now, officers based in southeast Turkey have supervised the flow of illegal arms to numerous opposition factions ready to fight the regime of President Bashar Assad. The only problem is some of the rebel groups have links with terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, so the CIA mission must be careful not to arm proven terrorists by mistake.
Arms and ammunition are being brought into Syria mainly over the Turkish border with the help of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood network and other groups, the report says. Expenses are being shared by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The NYT source, an unnamed Arab intelligence official, revealed that American officers are also collecting information on Syrian opposition groups and recruiting informants among their ranks. The source said the Obama administration is considering sharing its intelligence data, such as satellite images and detailed information on the location and maneuvers of Syrian troops.
According to the source, CIA operatives might be helping the rebels with organizing a rudimentary intelligence organization. The CIA agents have reportedly not set foot on Syrian soil, however.