CIA and the US military operatives train rebels in Turkey and Jordan – report
The CIA and US special operational troops and have been secretly training Syrian rebels at bases in Jordan and Turkey since November 2012. Up to 100 from all over Syria have gone through courses in the last month alone, according to US media reports.
At the two-week courses trainees are taught to use Russian-designed 14.5-millimeter anti-tank rifles, anti-tank missiles, as well as 23-millimeter anti-aircraft weapons, Los Angeles Times reported citing anonymous US officials and rebel commanders.
One of such US covert training session, conducted by American, Jordanian and French, has allegedly been taking place in Jordan for the last month or so, the newspaper cited Brig. Gen. Yahya Bittar, the head of intelligence for the Free Syrian Army.
The exact number of rebels given instruction in both countries since the training began at a new American base in southwest Jordan could not be determined. But according to a different rebel commander the training in Jordan involves 20 to 45 insurgents at a time.
AFP Photo / Khalil Mazraawi
The training reportedly started months before President Obama approved sending arms to anti-Assad rebels for the first time in mid-June. The secret courses have involved fighters from the Free Syrian Army, according to US official, who spoke to the newspaper anonymously. They have been selected when US military set up supply lines to provide nonlethal assistance to rebels, according to the official.
So far, about 100 rebels from Dara have attended four courses, while rebels from Damascus have attended three courses, according to a rebel commander in the Syrian province of Dara.
“Those from the CIA, we would sit and talk with them during breaks from training and afterward, they would try to get information on the situation inside” Syria, said the commander, who helps oversee weapons acquisitions.
Graduates are sent back across the border to re-join the fight, Brig. Gen. Bittar said.
The rebels have been promised supplies of armor-piercing anti-tank weapons and other arms to resist President Assad’s army, the Dara commander said. Since last year, the weapons sent through the Dara military council, apparently from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, have included four or five Russian-made heavy Concourse anti-tank missiles, 18 14.5-millimeter guns mounted on the backs of pickup trucks and 30 82-millimeter recoilless rifles, the commander told the newspaper.
“I’m telling you, this amount of weapons, once they are spread across the province [of Dara] is considered nothing,” the rebel commander was quoted as saying. “We need more than this to tip the balance or for there to even be a balance of power.”
The White House and CIA officials have declined to comment on the alleged training programs while other US officials have confirmed the training, though disputed details provided by rebels.
AFP Photo / STR
President Obama has announced that some 700 combat-ready troops have stayed behind in Jordan at the request of the Jordanian government.
The deployment increases the number of US troops stationed in the country to 1,000, according to an AFP defense source.
More backdoor US aid?
Jordan and Turkey also appeared in another recent report by the Washington Post citing US officials said that CIA is preparing to deliver arms to rebel groups in Syria through its bases in these two countries.
“We have relationships today in Syria that we didn’t have six months ago,” the WP quoted Benjamin J. Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, as saying.
Meanwhile, Syrian rebels have confirmed the shipment of new weapons from “friendly countries” to battle the government forces, according to spokesman for the opposition fighters, Loay Al Mikdad. The shipment, the representative assured, did not come from the US. Earlier this month the Associated Press also learned that the Gulf States delivered new anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft missiles to the opposition.
The surge in weapons shipments follows US claims earlier in June that it had strong evidence that the government has used chemical weapons against opposition forces contrary to an earlier finding the UN in May, with lead investigator Carla Del Ponte concluding that the rebels were behind at least one chemical weapons attack.
AFP Photo / STR
The Syrian insurgent are awaiting the US shipment. “We believe that the United States will implement its commitments to us very soon," Al Mikdad said on Friday.
Speaking at the Russian economic forum on Friday, President Vladimir Putin has once again said that the West should not arm the rebels because they include “terrorist” groups.
Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal www.strategic-culture.org.