'CIA feeding intel to Syrian rebel forces'

WSJ: US sharing information with secular rebel groups in hopes of neutralizing pro-al Qaida militants.

March 23, 2013 12:45
1 minute read.
MEMBERS OF A Syrian opposition group are seen on the front lines in Aleppo

Syrian opposition fighters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Attempting to circumvent al-Qaida’s increased influence in a potential post-President Bashar Assad Syria, the CIA has begun to trickle intelligence to selected rebel fighters, The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, citing US officials.

At the moment only limited information is being passed along, as it is still unclear which rebel groups can be trusted, officials said.

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US, European and Arab officials said the move is based on the United States’ and Israel’s preference for dealing with secular groups, hoping they will be more cooperative when rebuilding Syria’s leadership structure if Assad falls.

They said a similar motivation behind the move could be US counter-terrorism reports that al-Nusra Front, a terrorist group operating in Syria, is possibly strengthening its connections to al-Qaida leadership based in Pakistan.

The US’s wealth of information comes from a variety of sources, including use of satellites and working closely with Israeli and Jordanian spy agencies, both of which have extensive networks in place in Syria.

Though there has been a rise in CIA involvement in the Syrian civil war, there are no plans to be directly involved in the military actions as reiterated by US President Barack Obama on Friday.

Beyond the sharing of information, the CIA has been working with Jordanian, French and British intelligence services to provide several types of weapons training.

There has been rising pressure on Obama from forces within his government calling for an increase in US involvement, as Michigan Democratic Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin sent a letter to the president urging him to take “more active steps to stop the killing in Syria and force Bashar Assad to give up power.”

As al-Nusra’s influence grows, so much so that one specialist termed it “an organization that resembles an army,” Israeli officials have become more concerned with the situation unfolding in Syria.

The Journal quoted a highly placed Israeli official who said, “Israel would welcome America’s influence in shaping the post-Assad Syria.”

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