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Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With CIA Aid: NY Times Report

By Press TV

March 25, 2013 "Information Clearing House" -"Press TV" - With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the fighting against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

As it evolved, the airlift correlated with shifts in the war within Syria, as rebels drove Syria’s army from territory by the middle of last year. And even as the Obama administration has publicly refused to give more than “nonlethal” aid to the rebels, the involvement of the C.I.A. in the arms shipments - albeit mostly in a consultative role, American officials say - has shown that the United States is more willing to help its Arab allies support the lethal side of the Syrian unrest.

From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. The C.I.A. declined to comment on the shipments or its role in them.
NT Times

HIGHLIGHTS

American officials have confirmed that senior White House officials were regularly briefed on the military shipments. NY Times

A former American official noted that the size of the shipments and the degree of distributions are voluminous. “People hear the amounts flowing in, and it is huge,” he said. NY Times

Russia has warned the United States that the conflict in Syria will escalate if the U.S. provides arms to militants and continues to push for the overthrow of the Damascus government. Examiner

Despite the resignation of the leader of the Western-backed Syrian opposition coalition on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that it won't affect the U.S. effort to try to force Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, according to the Associated Press.

However, there is also growing consensus among the U.S. and its allies that little can be done to put new pressure on the Syrian president to go, AP reports.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed.

The Syrian government has long said that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

See also -

CIA aids huge arms smuggling to Syria – report:" . At least 3,500 tons of have been delivered - some ending up on the black market, with the Turkish government an active player, a media report says.

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