DUBAI - The intelligence services of some Western countries opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have visited Damascus to discuss security cooperation with his government, Syria's deputy foreign minister said in remarks broadcast on Wednesday.

"I will not specify (which countries) but many of them have visited Damascus, yes," the deputy minister, Faisal Mekdad, said in an interview with the BBC.

Mekdad said that the contacts appeared to show a rift between the political and security authorities in some countries opposed to Assad.

Western powers have supported the opposition with rhetoric but have backed away from material aid as al-Qaida-linked groups take advantage of a power vacuum in rebel-held regions.

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