The Central Intelligence Agency is helping allies decide which Syrian rebels will receive weapons to fight against the Syrian government, The New York Times reports.
Rocket-propelled grenades, automatic rifles, ammunition and anti-tank weapons are being funneled across the Turkish border with the help of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and other groups. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are picking up the tab.
The small group of CIA officials are said to have been in Turkey for several weeks, despite the Obama administration’s repeated claims it will not actively support the Syrian opposition.
“We don’t want to take actions that would contribute to the further militarization of Syria because that could take the country down a dangerous path,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on February 21.
That position became a campaign issue over which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney attacked President Obama, The Hill reports.
“President Obama’s lack of leadership has resulted in a policy of paralysis that has watched [Syrian President] Assad slaughter 10,000 individuals,” Romney said.
But the Obama Administration has been providing “media-technology training” and other assistance to Syrian rebels through nonprofits like the Institute for War & Peace Reporting and Freedom House, Time reports.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that the CIA and State Department helped rebels develop “logistical routes for moving supplies into Syria and provid[ed] communications training.”
Now, as American officials work to keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, The New York Times reports that the U.S. military has drawn up plans for how to secure Syria’s chemical and biological weapons in a worst-case scenario.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in St. Petersburg, Russia, next Thursday according to The Associated Press. The AP speculates that private talks will likely focus on the crisis in Syria.