Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Washington coordinates arms supplies to Syrian rebels: US officials

The vessel "Lutfallah II" docks at the port of Selaata, north of Beirut, on April 27, 2012 after it was intercepted by the Lebanese navy for being suspected of carrying weapons destined for Syria's rebel army.

Source: Press TV

The US has coordinated the climbing number of illegal shipment of more advanced weapons to anti-Damascus Syrian rebels paid for by Persian Gulf Arab states, US and foreign officials say.

President Barack Obama administration officials, however, claim that American support is limited to ‘expanded contacts with opposition military forces’ to provide ‘credibility assessment’ of rebel forces and command-and-control infrastructure to US-sponsored Persian Gulf dictatorships that fund the purchase and shipment of lethal weapons to anti-Damascus armed gangs, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, American officials also met and negotiated in Washington this week with a delegation of Kurds from sparsely populated eastern Syria, where little violence has occurred. The talks, says an Obama administration official, included discussions about the likelihood of opening a second front against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in efforts to compel him to move resources from the west.

“We are increasing our nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, and we continue to coordinate our efforts with friends and allies in the region and beyond in order to have the biggest impact on what we are collectively doing,” said a senior State Department official, one of several US and foreign government officials who discussed the developing efforts on the condition of anonymity.

Many officials, the report adds, now consider an expanding military confrontation to be inevitable.

The American military, the paper notes, has also prepared options for Syria “extending all the way to air assaults to destroy the nation’s air defenses.” However, US officials describe such scenario as unlikely, claiming instead, that the United States and its allies are increasingly focusing on coordination of intelligence and the supplying weapons to anti-Damascus rebel groups.

Moreover, the new weaponry for the Syrian rebels are being stockpiled in Damascus, in Idlib near the Turkish border and in Zabadani on the Lebanese border, according to the report, with the rebels claiming that their supplies of arms and ammunition has significantly increased following a decision by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Persian Gulf Arab kingdoms to provide millions of dollars in funding each month.

Furthermore, anti-Syrian rebel leaders say they have been in direct contact with the State Department officials to “designate worthy rebel recipients of arms and pinpoint locations for stockpiles, but US officials said that there currently are no military or intelligence personnel on the ground in Syria.”

The paper also emphasized that the despotic Persian Gulf Arab regimes would take pleasure in the fall of President Assad’s government “as a blow against Iran” and would welcome further US assistance to such end.

Syria will reportedly be on the agenda at this week’s NATO summit, due to be held in the US city of Chicago.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011 and more than 6,000 police forces, army troops, security forces and pro-government people have been killed in the unrest.

While the West and the Syrian opposition say the government is responsible for the killings, Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, insisting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.

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