Arms Shipments Rise to Syrian Rebels
In what’s being dubbed (perhaps optimistically) as a “carefully prepared covert operation” the U.S. and European powers are directing increasingly sophisticated weapons shipments from Gulf states to Syria’s rebels, the AP is reporting. Arms shipments to Syrian rebels have doubled over the past four weeks as the rebels have encroached on the Syrian capital.
The division of labor reportedly looks like this: Saudi Arabia and Qatar fund the weapons purchases from Croatia or black market arms dealers in Europe; Jordan and Turkey provide land access for the weapons to enter Syria, while the U.S. and Europe ‘coordinate’ who gets what. According to an “Arab official, a diplomat and military experts” quoted by the AP, only “secular fighters” are receiving the weapons. How that is ensured, however, was not revealed.
The Syrian rebels have advanced to Damascus and the covert effort was being framed as giving the rebels the needed muscle to secure supply lines between Jordan and Damascus and then make a final move on the capital:
Mideast powers opposed to President Bashar Assad have dramatically stepped up weapons supplies to Syrian rebels in coordination with the U.S. in preparation for a push on the capital of Damascus, officials and Western military experts said Wednesday.
A carefully prepared covert operation is arming rebels, involving Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, with the United States and other Western governments consulting, and all parties hold veto power over where the shipments are directed, according to a senior Arab official whose government is participating. His account was corroborated by a diplomat and two military experts.
The Arab official said the number of arms airlifts has doubled in the past four weeks. He did not provide exact figures on the flights or the size of the cargo. Jordan opened up as a new route for the weapons late last year, amid U.S. worries that arms from Turkey were going to Islamic militants, all four told The Associated Press in separate interviews. Jordan denies helping funnel weapons to the rebels.