CIA Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition
The New York Times reported Thursday that a number of CIA officers are on the ground in Turkey funneling weapons to opposition fighters in Syria. Automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition, and some antitank weapons, paid for by Turkey, Saudia Arabia, and Qatar, are being smuggled across the border by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. According to Arab intelligence officials, the CIA operatives have been on the ground for several weeks in order to keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda and “to make new sources and recruit people.”
Additionally, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, may be offered safe passage and clemency by the U.S. and the U.K. in order to encourage a transfer of power. One U.K. official said: “It is hard to see a negotiated solution in which one of the participants would be willing voluntarily to go off to the international criminal court.” Many foreign policy makers now consider the “Yemen model,” in which Assad would be granted asylum if he stepped down, the most viable political solution to the current conflict.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross was planning on mounting an emergency operation to aid and evacuate the wounded, sick and elderly from the besieged city of Homs, however, on Thursday the team had had to turn back “due to shooting and the security situation.”
Finally, Jordan granted political asylum to a defecting Syrian pilot after he landed his jet at a military air base in the kingdom on Thursday. This was the first defection involving an aircraft since the start of the 15-month-old crisis.